Saturday September 6, 2008
I got up early this morning (6 am) and went with a small tour group to Jinshanling to walk the Great Wall for 10 km (6.2 miles). It doesn't sound like very far until you see the pictures of the walls going up and down the mountains. When we first got there our guide said that the best thing to do would be take the cable car up to the first tower at the top of the mountain to save 40 minutes of walking. Of course, I then preceded to ask him if it was extra and he said only 40 yuan (about $6) and of course I quickly started up the path walking to the top of the mountain.
About 15 took the cable car and 4 of us walked. Much to my surprise I beat everyone is our group who took the cable car up to the top of the mountain.
The walk was very difficult at time but this was an area 3 hrs out of Beijing which shows the wall in its deteriorating state and others which have been repaired as a conservation effort. There are also very few people hiking this far out. Most go close to Beijing at Badaling and there are actually thousands on the wall at the same time. The entire hike of the wall took about 3.5 hrs. At the end you had an option to use a zip line to go across the river and save another 30 minutes walking. 40 Yuan. You KNOW what I did. lol I probably would have done it had I not done the zip line canopy tour a few months ago in Costa Rica.
The crowds from the paralympics, athletes and spectators, have made finding rooms impossible. I intentionally waited for the Olympics to end to travel to China but did not know about the paralympics. Since I had no hostel room for Saturday night, after the walk I went to the train station to catch the overnight train to Xian to see the Terracotta Warriors. Unfortunately since I had not planned the train ride earlier there were no sleeper cars for the 9 pm til 8:40 am train ride. So I sat in a seat for 11 or so hours. But I had a few limited English conversations through the night and like always, traveling is just great fun and you make the best of every situation.