wild, wild wall

Today’s adventure involved a return trip to the great wall.  I had considered trying to cancel since we went on Saturday, and there’s other stuff I haven’t seen yet, but – it was a different part of the wall, and well, given the choice, am I going to choose a museum or going to play outside?  This is me – of course I will choose to play outside.

After my experience on the bike tour, I will admit, I was slightly afraid of being with another guide on my own.  But, I got lucky in two ways…I got emails last night stating that two people had joined my tour, so not only would I not be alone, I was getting a refund for some of the cost.  And, the guide showed up this morning and was so professional and organized.  The other two on the tour were a couple about my age, also doing a tour through China.  It was great having a few other people along.

So we drove two hours or so outside the city to Jiankou, which is not officially open to the public, but the local people keep it open and have a toll.  The last bathroom before the hike, and Mutianyu over 6 miles away, was a public toilet in the middle of a completely rural area.  Half the squat toilets didn’t flush…my second experience with them was not nearly as scary as the first, but I will say it makes the wildflower bathrooms look like the four seasons.  Surprisingly, there was a working sink.  Saweet….especially since the hand sanitizer was at the hotel.  We drove a little further, and then stopped…literally in the middle of nowhere.  Had I not known better, I could have been in rural New York, or California.  Then the guide was like, ok, we’re off.  Really?  Where are we…this doesn’t look like the wall.

After 45 minutes or so of uphill on rocks, off rocks, by fields, through bugs and bushes, you name it, we crossed it, we made it to the wall.  And…well, it was amazing.  The restored part we saw on Saturday was pretty darn cool, but the unrestored, wild wall adds a whole new experience.  There were make-shift ladders, and stone steps, and we got to climb in towers…complete madness and I am so sore and bruised, but it was totally worth it.  And our guide and group, were fantastic.  We came up on another guide and lady, and she asked us if we were afraid coming through the woods.  We were like, no…we have a guide.  She said so did she, but he kept second guessing the right way to go….reassuring since our guide told us about someone who tried to hike there on their own and was never seen again.

It was so amazing and so crazy, just another level.  We’re walking on loose stone (one flew up and smashed my ankle – ouch!) and to the side of us is a cliff, god knows how far down.  Something that you’d never find in the states, but, its thousands of years old and has never been restored.  The fact that its still standing at all makes it that much more amazing.  It was such a relief to hit the restored part of the wall, yet a little sad as well.

We ended the hike at pretty much the same place we were on Saturday, and then went for lunch at a Chinese restaurant on the way back to town.  Sweet and sour pork and rice and something that looked like green beans, but was apparently some veggie that if it wasn’t cooked enough would kill us….that was hours ago, and I’m still alive, so I’m thinking I’m good.

After the hike and the two hours in traffic on the way home, I had the best intentions of going for a walk, but I was so sore, the bar and dinner just sounded more appealing.  Of course, it was raining, so I couldn’t sit on the roof deck…oh well, I did spend a ton of time up there.  While I was eating one of the waiters came over and talked with me for a while, then asked if we could take a photo…I kind of felt like a celebrity…or a spectacle.  I tried the last of the signature cocktails and went back and tried to remember my favorites.  One I got, the other, not so much.

Then came back to the room and packed up my stuff…I cant believe that my adventure in Asia is over and I’m flying back tomorrow, I’m ready to go home, but after all the planning and craziness, and whatnot, I can’t believe it’s over.  It doesn’t seem like that long ago I was checking in for my flight out here and panicking that I would get lost at the Hong Kong airport at SFO…if only I knew then what I do now. Now I’m checked in for my flights home…here’s to keeping my window seats.  Vegas is next, and that will be a blast, I’m sure.  And, hopefully a good way to get used to the time difference, or a good way to pass out by the pool….

Until next time…I have four hours in Korea tomorrow, perhaps I’ll be able to access the blog then…or gasp, facebook, and post some photos.

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