Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Hello, want banana? (Visit to the Great Wall)

Great Wall at Mutianyu

This week is flying by. As I mentioned in my last post, this week is a vacation week because of the October 1 Holiday that honors the foundation of the People's Republic of China. Schools and many work places are closed and people seem to be travelling to visit their families or simply see a bit more of the world.

Today we went to see the Great Wall (in Dutch: Chinese Muur). It's funny, but when you travel to China, one of the first things you'll probably want to do when you get off the plane is to visit the Wall. But when you are moving here, you first spend your days trying to figure out how to pay a phone bill (missed the deadline), hang pictures on the wall (two gongren came to do it for me), or get your nails done (well, it is part of my cultural experience here!). We didn't really have time (or a car) to go before, and twice when we had time and car, it was raining!

Not today though. Today all the stars aligned and at 8:50ish Driver Li - who we know from the time that we were still looking for a house -- showed up with his car and we headed out towards Mutianyu. The thing about the Great Wall is of course that it is really long and there are many places around Beijing where you can go see it. Some places are more touristy than others, and at some places the wall is in better shape than others. Mutianyu, where we went today, is a beautiful site, but it is rather touristy. You sort of have to make your way past many T-shirt ("T-shirt, one dollar!") and fruit (hello, want a banana?) stands. I honestly cannot tell you how many bananas I have been offered today, but it is more than I can eat in a year. (Interestingly enough, I did not see anyone actually buy a banana, but I might have been too busy eyeing the one-dollar T-shirts).

If this description isn't already touristy enough for you, please also note that to get on top of the Wall at this location, you actually can board a cable car. And after your leisure stroll across the wall, you can either again take a cable car, or -- like the adventurous Dutch -- a toboggan slide down. (A toboggan is a sort of sled, and you slide down like you do with bobsledding, except with about 1/1000 the speed.)

Here are some pictures:

Cable car ride up.

Walking on top of the Wall.

Mo-o-om, I am here!

The big red himself.

Thanks for traveling to the Wall along with me. Now go grab that banana!

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