Wednesday, August 01, 2007

More of the Wall

First I'll apologize for the layout of this post. Due to the censoring of Blogger by the Great Firewall of China, it's difficult to format photos and text to make posts aesthetically pleasing. Now, on with the post.

Last year we took our trip to the Great Wall at Mutianyu. This year I chose to hike Badaling even though it is the most tourist-traveled section. I decided this would be best for my parents because it would be easier to walk. It was certainly easier than Mutianyu, but it wasn't all that easy--especially once you get past the hordes of people. (Last year's Wall hike)

It was a long line just to get onto the wall--we probably waited about 15 minutes to get tickets and another 15 to get through the gate. But we pushed our way forward. We stared to the right and saw swarms of tourists flooding the way. It didn't look like the previous year with the crowds turning back after the third tower; these people kept going (take a close look at the photo above for proof). Obviously, we decided to head south instead. It was still crowded to the south, but the crowd broke much sooner than the north way.

The day was good--not too hazy and not too hot. My brother and I split from our parents so that we could go at our own pace. We allotted almost three hours to the hike. We managed to go as far as the government allowed:

We took a long rest at this point. The strangest moment came as we rested--a vendor scaled the wall and produced some cheap merchandise. We have no idea where he came from--it was almost a straight drop down the mountain on any side. How did this man get over the wall? Apparently, the Great Wall could keep invading Mongols out but it is no protection from a motivated Chinese vendor.

On our walk back through the parking lot/tourist trap village, we were harassed to no end by the hundred vendors all selling the exact same merchandise. I got fed up and lectured one vendor about why I refused to buy anything from him--I just don't like being begged to buy things I'm not interested in; if I want to buy something, I'll ask about it.

On the way back into the city, we asked the driver to drop us at the Lama Temple. My parents and I visited this amazing temple last summer, but we decided to see it again with my brother. It was well worth the extra visit and it was surprisingly uncrowded.


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