Wednesday, April 2, 2014

beijing de gushi: day three.

day three was our great Great Wall day. we set out bright & early & hopped on an hour-long bus, than into a car for another hour or so. as the journey progressed, the tall buildings & bright lights gradually disappeared & were replaced by tiny homes, dusty streets, & long stretches of empty land. our driver for that second leg of the trip was quite a character - he & i were chatting about his son, his granddaughter, his experiences driving americans out to the great wall, & more. he kept being like, "jiankou is another really nice part of the wall, want me to take you there instead?" to which i'd say, "nope, huanghuacheng is fine!" then five minutes he'd say, "so mutianyu is also nice. i could take you there, too?" & i'd replay, "nope, huanghuacheng is fine!" this went on pretty much the whole ride. :) at one point, he even pulled over to the side of the road (we had a split second fear he was going to kill us, or something?!), pulled out his phone, & showed us all these pictures of his family. it was pretty funny. he even navigated us out to the very entrance to the wall our guidebook told us to take. in short, he was totally nice & fine, & not a killer :)

the great wall was our favorite experience of our beijing trip, & maybe one of the best experiences of our life. we really wanted to get far away from the crowds & just jump right into experiencing the silent grandeur & beauty of the wall & its surroundings. & that totally happened! the great wall is separated into all these different parts with different names - we went out to huanghuacheng, in case you're curious.


see the wall up there, on the spine of the mountain?:


the part of the wall we climbed bordered this gorgeous lake, which in turn kept the air cool & breezy when we were sweating buckets. it's interesting - it was so fun to be so far away from the comforts of civilization, but also a little scary! we were really unplugged - our cell phones didn't work, we didn't have a ton of cash (although we had some), & we weren't 100% sure of how we were going to get home (i mean, we knew, it's just that we had a little mixup getting out there, so after discovering that our foolproof great wall plan wasn't indestructible, we were a little like, "hope everything goes okay.....?")




starting out:


so we met this german couple, & of course ben was speaking the deutsche with them, but then he offered to take a photo of them. so then after, they offered to take a photo of us, which you see below. anyway, before we continued on our way, the girl said they were brother & sister! afterwards, ben was like, "i was wondering why they didn't put their arms around each other or anything in the photo..." haha.


just being all like, "THIS IS HARD":


another photo attempting to communicate a similar sentiment:


& a third photo attempting to communicate a similar sentiment:






a derpy face on a great wall:


inside one of the little posts at the top of every hill:




the wall occasionally had these little stairways leading down to the ground or corners tucked into  random places, which you'd think i would always get pictures of, but we actually only have two. this little stairway:  


& this little guy:




since we went slightly earlier in the year, the hills weren't as vividly green as you see sometimes in photos, & it was pretty misty. but it was still so nice! i think the mist is actually really beautiful:


we were so far out there that we actually came across a few parts of the wall that were pretty treacherous & run-down. this steep downhill slope didn't have the clean-cut steps that are so easy to climb - it was a stairway still, but made out of sharp (& sometimes loose!) rocks. but we made it down! there was another part of the wall further on with the same sort of rocks. it was all quite adventurous:


i just love the way it snakes off into the distance:


this view from the wall was, i don't know, okay i guess:



a great guy on a great wall (look how rugged it gets up there in the distance!)


a slightly closer view of said ruggedness:


before we could climb the ruggedness above (which we did!) a portion of the wall had crumbled & we had to walk down on the ground for a little bit. we crossed over a little stream that was still frozen over/snowy in some parts! which is so weird, because it certainly wasn't cold snow weather...so i guess we were just kind of far up, up, & away. interesting:



& so it continues:


here we are right about the time we turned around & hiked back at the end of the day. we brought a few pieces of fruit, water, these really good rice triangles with meat in the center wrapped in seaweed, & a roll of oreos on the hike & it was the perfect amount of food.



heading back up (one of the) crazy stone part(s):



here's a part of the wall that crumbled over the water (that they don't open to the public for climbing, for obvious reasons). isn't it cool looking?!


more views of the lake in the area. it was so, so beautiful & peaceful!...which, sadly, kind of looked like it wasn't going to last much longer. they were doing a ton of construction that we had to go through before getting on the wall. they were building a bunch of new hotels, a resort right on the water, this whole rock path/garden in front of it, & were even fixing up a bunch of homes & buildings in the sleepy little town that was right there. they're kind of rebranding it as "lakeside great wall," & i'm interested to know if it'll get pretty crowded when it's all finished. which is sad, because it was so calm &, well, not crowded while we were there. we passed five other people the entire time we were on the wall! it was amazing. so vastly different than badaling, which is the part of the great wall that i would say is the most like times square, but it's not - because it's EVEN MORE CROWDED.


& a closing image of an even more ancient-looking portion of the wall that loomed over the...construction-filled parking lot. :)


man! even looking at these photos makes me remember the excitement & adrenaline-rush that was that day. a great day with a great husband on a great wall all documented in a great* blog post.

*increeeeedibly subject to interpretation

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