Saturday, September 8, 2007

The Great Wall

I wanted to take a tour bus to the great wall the travel book talked about and I went to the place to buy a ticket at about 6:30 AM and no one was in the office. A lady standing just in front of the office ask me if I wanted to go visit the Great Wall and the Ming Tombs. I said yes so we went across the street were there was a tour bus and I paid my money and got on the bus. We set there for another hour and ½ until the bus filled up before leaving and I was the only non-Chinese person on the bus. I was not bothered buy this but the tour guides did talk the whole day and I did not understand a word. When we got to the wall at Badaling the tours guides pointed at the clock on the phone and then wrote down the time I needed to be back to catch the bus. I only had a little over an hour and they were sort of saying “hurry hurry” so up the wall I went. The wall is steep and the little bit I did I did not find an easy climb. I did make it about 3 watchtowers up before I thought I should head down so I did not miss the bus. I really was impressed with the wall but wish I would of have a bit more time there.

The rest of the day was not as impressive for me. Now that we had been to the wall it was time to try and sell us stuff. We went to a place that sold Jade stuff, a place that sold dry fruit and a place that would take you pulse and tell you something was wrong with you but these Chinese herbs will cure you if you buy them. Lastly we went to a place I not have figured out what the place was. It had a few old buildings and a Buddhist temple. A number of people were burning incense and praying. We were lead into a room where a Buddhist priest gave a talk of course I did not understand a word and felt really out of place. We never did go to the Ming Tombs which I have read are not that impressive. I enjoyed the day but would recommend no one else takes a tour like this just to much time at stuff I did not want to do and not enough time at the wall.

A few days later I decided to visit the wall again but at a different place and try and do it on my own. I once again ended up making a mistake were I should have read the tour book better and taken better notes before leaving. I found the bus station and a guy was trying to sell me on taking a minibus that would cost 160 Yuan each way to get to Simatai which was were I wanted to go. I had decided I was going to take the bus and get there the cheap way. I ask in the bus station Simatai and they said yes in this bus. I was getting on the bus but figured I better use the toilet prior to the long bus ride. I ask the drive toilet and he did not understand so I act like I am holding you know what and make the “pppsssssss” sound. He seems to have understood but gestures for me to get in the bus. The fair on the bus with 15 Yuan. I am thinking 160 Yuan yea right.

We drive for about an hour with the bus stopping and picking up and dropping off people and then we stop and they point at me to get off. I get off this is not the place I was thinking but the drive pops out after me and points at the tree. I go over to the tree and proceed to water it while a bus full of Chinese set and watch.

After about another hour of driving we enter a town and they tell me Simatai so I get out and there is a girl there with a car and she will take me to Simatai. I ask how much and it is 300 Yuan. I fell like I am being scammed so tell no I will go back to Beijing on the bus. I set there a few minutes and decide to try a cab. I find a cab and he says 300 Yuan also. Something I had read said the price they quote are much higher then with the meter so I figure I will ask meter and he grumbles but says OK. Long story not so short it ended up costing me 400 Yuan with the meter and 30 Yuan on the bus so the mini van at 320 round trip would have been a much better deal lesson learned.

Enough about getting to and from Simatai and a little over the wall. I was really impressed with this sight. If it was clear I think it would have been much more impressive then Badaling.

I took the cable and rail cars up and then it was a bit of a hike up to tour 8. From tour 8 I walked down to tour 7 and then up to tour 12 which is as far as you are allowed to go. This section of the wall is older than the section I had seen a few days before and the guy that followed me around said that it would take about 10 days to walk from Badaling to Simatai. They say you can walk from a place called Janshanling to Simatai in about 4 hours but I don’t think I could even though they say the section between Janshanling and Simatai is not as steep. This picture is part of the Janshanling section of 24 watchtowers.

One more picture of Simatai.

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