Going to bed late and waking up early is becoming the norm in China. After all, there is so much to see and cover in this magnificent country. Today should be the first day where we feel rejuvenated after a good night’s rest and adjustment to the 12-hour time difference. The morning started off as usual with a great breakfast. We then headed to a classroom for a session in basic Mandarin (the most commonly spoken Chinse dialect). This was not only educational, but also a lot of fun. Mandarin is a tough language that we had no prior exposure to. We then had a quick lunch and boarded our bus for a short one hour ride to see one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
The Great Wall of China was built over a span of 2000 years starting from the 3rd century BC in order to protect the northern border of the country from invaders. The wall is over 5000 miles long. The section that we visited is in the mountains just north of Beijing. As we drove closer to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, it looked like a mythological serpent sharply twisting and turning and snaking thru the green mountains. We did not realize its magnificence until we scaled it. We had about an hour and a half to explore the Great Wall.
It was not particularly crowded on this day. Since we were in the mountains and outside of Beijing, the 100 degree heat wave that was scorching Beijing was nowhere to be found. We had a cool and pleasant, partly-cloudy, 80 degree day. It was perfect to do some climbing. After taking some quick snaps, we were allowed to hike to the highest point of the wall in this area which was about a mile away. A mile on flat ground can be easily walked in 20 minutes. It took us almost an hour to get to the top. The Great Wall is about 15 feet wide full of steps of varying sizes and ramps. Every couple of 100 yards of so has a watch tower. In some places, the wall is so steep (30% gradient) that you are literally walking up on all fours. At the same time, you have to lean back and run down in some downhill sections because it was impossible to slow down. It was a tough, arduous climb where the views kept getting better.
After the Great Wall which was by far one of the most amazing sites we have ever visited, we headed back to Beijing with one last stop – the Olympic Village. Beijing hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics. The unused stadiums are now tourist attractions. The Bird’s Nest, which is the gigantic stadium, is the primary attraction from a distance. We walked around the Village and snapped more pics with locals and enjoyed our time there. Off to another Chinese dinner that was satisfying after a long day of hiking and celebrity glory. We finally retired to our hotel rooms around 9 PM.
This day will truly remain in our memories for ever!