Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Back to Beijing ... the old palace and great wall

While most ppl start from one point and move onward, I was returning to Beijing. I met a great girl from the Netherlands on the train ride back who was also traveling solo. We were so relieved that we both spoke English and quickly bonded over our adventures and confusion. The Chinese guy below us probably thought we were crazy. Not only were we chatting and laughing, we couldn't open the locked door, kept dropping our paper and bookmarks onto his bed, and couldn't figure out how to turn out the lights. It was great to talk to someone after being alone for 4 days.

We arrived in the morning and parted ways. I went back to Lynn's for a chill day.

The Old Summer Palace
Built in the European style, the old summer palace (originally called the imperial gardens) was built starting in 1707, but was destroyed by the British and the French in 1860. It remains a symbol of foreign aggression.
The ruins

Hardly anyone puts this palace on their schedule, and that's probably why I enjoyed it a lot - simply because it was fairly peaceful, a rarity that I was seeking. The grounds were rather expansive and consisted of many gardens. With the exception of the occasional Chinese tour group that came by with the blow horns, I enjoyed a calmness and just sat here, reading and writing.

A Great Hike on the Great Wall
This was one of the things I was looking forward to the most - hiking the great wall! Instead of going to the usual tourist spot at Badaling, I went with a group to do a 4 hour hike (10 km) from Jinshaling to Simatai.

Now, I was expecting it to be a "Chinese tour" like my one to Hua Shan. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that not only did our guide speak English, but I was on a bus load full of fellow backpackers! I finally found fellow travelers. It was not only a lot of fun to meet ppl from all over the world (Sweden, England, Chile, Germany, etc), but it gave me hope/inspiration for my future travel plans.Looking at the expanse of the wall. The wall is connected by watchtowers. It just kept going on and on, rolling over the ridges. You can't help but just stand in awe. What were they thinking?!?!

One of the best things about the hike was that it was mostly devoid of people, except our bus load of backpackers, few individuals running a race and the Chinese touts asking if we wanted "cold water, beer, soda" most of the way. The green nature around us was amazing.

View along the renovated wall.
The restored wall meets the original wall. Most of the way wasn't nicely paved, but rather crumbling and falling apart which made for a rather difficult and adventurous trek!
I was smiling despite the steep hike ahead of me. It wasn't exactly a walk in the park! Lots of steep inclines, ups and downs and unclear paths. Needless to say, there were no older Chinese ladies in sandals on this hike.View from inside one of the many watch towers. It was much cooler inside here.
A rough road to a crumbling tower.Me and the renovated wall.More hiking under the blazing sun.

I conquered the wall!4 hours later. Getting off the wall in style. We could either walk the last 30 min or zip-line it - um, no questions here! This is actually me zip-lining down. My Swedish friend took the pic for me.

The great wall lived up to its reputation. It really was amazing!

1 comment:

caroline said...

WOW! This is really amazing. The Great Wall looks awesome. You've got some great pictures here (are these from your Christmas present camera?). Very nice!

I want to go! But hmmm. I can't take 2 small kids on a 10k hike. But will I be too old for it when they're finally grown up? LOL