More Beijing sightseeing

After the previous night’s milonga I had a well deserved lay in and then ventured out for more Beijing sightseeing. First though I did a recce to find out where the buses to the Great Wall leave from. Actually there are several, it depends which part of the wall you want to visit. I decided on Mutianyu and after the recce decided to go for the more expensive but simpler option of taking an organised tour.

I had ambitious plans to see both the Lama Temple and the Summer Palace but ended up enjoying the tranquility of the Lama Temple for too long. The Summer Palace will have to wait for another day.

It was an early start this morning for the great wall tour. I booked it with Happy Dragon hostel and at 7am was enjoying their breakfast. We set off at the appointed time – 7:30am to pick up participants from other hostels. None of them were keen to be on time. Eventually we set off for the wall at Mutianyu and arrived about an hour and a half later. There were a bunch of stalls selling souvenirs and snacks, including “Manual dumplings” at the start of the walk up to the wall. I wonder what an automatic dumpling is like? Most of us opted for the (extra) 65CNY chair lift up to the wall. Five minutes of extra sightseeing or thirty minutes hot and sweaty walking in the trees; no contest really. The Mutianyu section of the wall is 2.5km long and includes 23 watch towers. The walkway is in places smooth slabs, in others steps. I for one would not want to assault the wall. Nowadays artillery would punch a hole though it without any difficulty but at the time it was built an attacker would have needed massive superiority of numbers to have a chance of overpowering the defenders. I walked the full 5km round trip in a couple of hours, grateful that the temperature was a few degrees cooler than yesterday and the sun was mostly hidden behind the clouds. As an alternative to walking or taking the chair lift down they have a toboggan run. The attendants waved their arms theatrically and shouted at me to slow down but where would the fun have been in that? Full speed is the only speed!

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