Crossing the immensity of The Great Wall

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Crossing the immensity of The Great Wall

On our third day in Beijing we went to the Forbidden City. Once we got there, as I’m sure you can imagine, there was a huge crowd. We were travelling to Huairou that afternoon, so there wouldn’t be a lot of time to visit everything given the crowd. We therefore just walked around the city and went back to the hotel to collect our stuff and head for the bus station.



Getting fooled by a taxi driver on the way to the Great Wall!

Normally we wouldn’t go into detail about a bus ride, train ride or flight because it would bore our readers, but something surreal happened on the way.

Before that we have to say that the owner of our hotel was extremely nice to us and wrote down exactly which buses and metros we had to take to get to our lodging/farmhouse in Bo Hai Town (Bei Gou Village). He even wrote it in Chinese, so it would be easier for us to show local people if we got lost.

But in the middle of the journey, a guy got on the bus and simply told us that this was our last stop and that he could help us. Heck, how on Earth did he know which was our last stop? But I think we were so confused with him almost pushing us to leave the bus and no one saying anything else. He barely spoke English, so we left the bus and waited to hear what he had to say to us. He wanted us to confirm where we were going and told us the bus would not go to that place, so he could take us in his taxi.


In the meantime, I was trying to identify at the bus stop where exactly we were, and trying to match the maps with the Chinese characters we’d been given by the hotel owner. Only then did I realize that there were still a few stops more before we had to take the next bus.

The guy had completely fooled us. What a jerk! He made us leave the bus and thought that with all the confusion, Chinese talk and so on we would simply get in his cab and pay whatever he wanted.

Luckily another bus came 1 minute later and we had to pay RMB 4 more. That’s not a fortune, but the fact that the guy was trying to fool a visitor to his country like that was something to tell the tourist office or whoever could warn tourists about this kind of thing.

We lost no more than 5 minutes and RMB 4, but the whole situation made us feel like idiots and pissed us off!


Family Travel Secret
Two of Ruth’s relatives (Rosi and Ariadna) who were in China just a few days beforehand told her that she had read about this kind of situation before and was prepared for it. It seems someone tried to do the same to her, but she refused. Be aware that, wherever you are going, you should always try to get the exact itinerary and have someone write it out in Chinese. And of course, avoid the kind of people that try to take you outside the bus and tell you anything to make you feel comfortable - in their cabs.

And finally arriving at the village located… just next to the Great Wall

After 2 more buses and a taxi we finally got to the farmhouse where we would spend the next two nights. The place looked very clean and the owner, even though he couldn’t speak a word in English, was very kind to us, trying to communicate in any way possible.


The place had a very nice view of the Great Wall, and from there we got an idea of what our visit would be like – in the mountains!

Things seemed to be getting better again.

Time to explore one of the most impressive wonders created by humans

The next day we woke up early, confident that the day ahead would be fantastic. After all, we would visit the impressive Great Wall.


The owner explained to us (using translation software on his tablet) that the route to the Great Wall was one way and the route to the 1km slide was the opposite way. It just made sense that first we should visit the Great Wall and then try to walk towards the slide, which started at a specific point along the wall. That way we would avoid going back and forth.




The walk to the wall took us about 2 hours. The first hour, although up the hill, was very comfortable and Noah was enjoying the nature; the second hour was tougher, as it was on an unpaved, very hilly trail which was full of irregular rocks. I was a bit ill, probably because of the strong air conditioning in the bedroom, and was not sure that I could carry Noah up the hill. Surprisingly he did very well during this second part of the trail and didn’t even ask me to carry him. Great for me …





After a while, there we were on The Great Wall! The surrounding views were also very impressive. Even though there were a lot of people there, we were probably in the least crowded part of the wall in this region.




Family Travel Secret
We were told that The Great Wall - Mutianyu is less visited than the part at Badaling. But if you want an authentic experience in which you walk a lot and hardly see a soul you have to go to The Great Wall at Jinshanling / Simatai.


I was still feeling a bit weak from my cold but continued walking up the stairs until I finally saw someone selling cold water. We had finished our two bottles on the trail, so it was necessary to buy some more. The prices were much higher than in the city, but they still weren’t very expensive, considering the currency conversion.



Family Travel Secret
When visiting The Great Wall be aware that you will need to carry a lot of water, especially if you decide to walk a lot like us. There are some people along the way selling drinks, but prices can be as high as RMB 20 for a bottle of water. Just as a comparison, we paid on average RMB 2 in Beijing for the same bottle. Unfortunately you can’t avoid paying that, unless you are fit enough to carry plenty of water in your backpack.



We were also finally able to see a lot of tourists there. We have nothing against the locals, but it was nice to see people who didn’t look at us differently.




We started walking a bit and eventually we got to a place with almost no visitors.




There is a reason for that: the part of the Wall in this region that attracts the most tourists is located about 2.5km the other way, where the slide and cable cars are, and that would be our final destination.






From there we continued walking along the Great Wall to the point where the cable cars and the slide are located. We didn’t really care about the cable car – we just wanted to go on the slide.







How to leave the Great Wall?? In a 1,5km slide!!

The slide is almost a 1,5 km slide going down the hill. That’s right! Almost 1,5 km slide down the hill.

You can even control the speed. I was behind Noah and Ruth and was willing to go a bit faster (just like our crazy son Noah) but there were signs all around to slow down, so we couldn’t go at a very extreme speed. There was one guy though who was just a few meters behind me and was almost begging me to go faster. I had to shout to him 3 times that I couldn’t go any faster than that … Noah and Ruth were just in front of me and all the time we were passing signs to slow down.


That was extremely entertaining. Noah was so excited that he asked us to go on it again. Maybe another time …


Just after leaving the slide we saw a Subway! I wouldn’t expect a Subway to be located in that part of China. Maybe in the big cities, but that was a small village … Well, that’s where we had an early dinner.

Another top attraction completed from our bucket list, which isn’t that long anymore.




Next stop, Chengde!

Important facts:
Bus ticket from Beijing to Huairou - 12 yuan per person. Journey time just over an hour. From Huairou to the entrance of the Great Wall Mutianyu a taxi can cost about 40 yuan. Return trip to the cablecar (with the option down the slide) - 100 yuan. If you are only going down the slide, the price is 80 yuan per person.


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