After the cat incident, we needed to get out of town, so we flew to Beijing, where we decided to climb the great wall of china. We hired a car and driver and headed out of the city to one of the best starting points along the wall. The drive was peaceful and beautiful as we made our way out from under the heavy smog and over-stimulation of city life. Dotted along the landscape were a few oddities…like this giant ass acorn full of fruit and veggies. I asked the driver what it was. He shrugged.
We arrived at the wall and walked to the entrance. After familiarizing ourselves with the squat toilets (a porcelain hole in the ground with grooved places for your feet), we began the ascent. Now, we could have taken the easy way up, an Aspen-style lift that would have whisked you to the top in less than five minutes. We decided, however, the best way to really experience the Wall was to walk up. And by walk up I mean walk up stairs, for about an hour. Have you ever done the stair stepper for an hour? Yeah, me either. But just imagine that for a goddamn hour. By the time we were a quarter of the way up I was huffing and puffing, my legs were aching and my back was loudly reminding me that I hate exercise. Fortunately (for me, not her), one of the girls with us had asthma and had to stop quite frequently. I used her haler about a half dozen times. Not really sure if it actually helped or if that bronchodilator was just a fantastic placebo, but nevertheless, we made it to the top.
Once we reached the top of the stairs, we stood, breathing heavily and taking in the view. Then we bought a snickers from a guy selling them out of a cart. It was, at that moment, the best thing I’d ever eaten. Bless you, you beautiful Snickers peddler! We walked about a mile east, pausing to take pictures, climb into towers, and spit over the edge.
At the top, seeing the meandering wall stretch and disappear into the horizon, the mountains in varying shades of dark blue, gray and brown, it’s difficult not to be deeply struck by the beauty of the landscaped. I imagined astronauts in space looking down on us, knowing they could see it from all the way up there. (Cheese alert) It reminded me how experiences like this not only open your mind, but leave you with a lasting impression, an imprinted memory to have for the rest of your life. I tried to sear the image into my brain, hoping that it would stay longer if I really looked hard.
We made our way over to the slide (imagine a child’s steel slide, but times 1000) and bought tickets to ride the toboggan down. Check out this video for an idea of what it was like. I love it when he yells yeee heee about 13 seconds into it. Were we scared we were going to fall out the side and tumble to our imminent deaths? Yep. Against our better judgement, did we speed up when the guards were yelling stop? Indeed. Did we almost crash into the people in front of us? Sure. Once we were at the bottom did we take the lift back up and ride the slide down again? You betcha. Did we fall asleep in the car back to the hotel because we were exhausted? Obviously. Would I do it again? In a heart beat.