Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Great Wall of China

To launch this blog series on my recent China trip, I will start with the most famous site we visited: the Great Wall.

If you want to get your wikipedia education on the Great Wall, go here. The deb-o-pedia version is as follows:
The Great Wall first began construction in like 200BC by the first emperor of China, who united China by conquering all the feudal lords (more about him when I talk about our trip to Xi'an). It was built to keep out Mongolians, including the Huns (I learned that from Mulan). It's super long.
We visited Mutianyu, which is a particular section of the wall. It's not the main tourist spot, but is still very tourist-friendly.
We hired a car, instead of taking the bus (because we missed the bus), and it was a very pleasant drive from the central part of Beijing to the outskirts where the wall is. On our approach, we saw tall green mountains with a white wall running along the very tip top, connecting them all.IMG_3718
We chose to take the gondola up to the wall, instead of hiking the mountain. (Trust me, you still get plenty of hiking on the wall, because it's not a smooth wheel-chair-friendly pathway. It's a series of stairs up and down with some ramps in between.) The gondola was kind of scary and small and open, but Daisy was in the ergobaby, so she couldn't accidentally fall out.
Then we walked on the Great Wall of China.
Daisy is wearing her China shorts that my mom brought back a couple years ago. They are made to be split in the back (because Chinese babies don't wear diapers), but we never split the back seam. They're kind of tacky, but not in China.
Angela and I relaxed in a shady spot, while Zane did some additional exploring. Soon into our relaxing, Daisy created an opportunity for me to change her diaper on the Great Wall of China. This is a special experience that you only get when you travel with a baby.
This was just the beginning of diaper changes on my lap. I became a great proficient.
After we saw our hearts' content of the Great Wall, we rode the toboggan slide down the mountain!!  I definitely recommend paying the extra money to do this, because it was so fun!
Daisy didn't realize how fun it was. She cried the ENTIRE 5-10 minute ride down. I think she thought we were getting separated. In hindsight, I should have gone first, so she could have seen me in front of her. Oh well. It was still fun.
There were several restaurant choices, western and Chinese. We chose Subway, which had a beautiful little patio overlooking the shops and mountain.
It was an absolutely beautiful day. This was probably my favorite day of our entire trip, because of the good weather, great company, quiet drive, and sheer awesomeness of being on the Great Wall.
Travel Tips and Take-aways:
  1. Mutianyu is a very nice, less-crowded, more rural section of the Great Wall.
  2. Hire a private car if possible. Having taken buses to other historic sites, I definitely recommend the car.  It was WAY more pleasant and not too much more expensive.
  3. Be prepared to climb lots of stairs, some extremely steep.
  4. Pay the extra for the exciting gondola ride and toboggan slide!
  5. This is a pretty child-friendly excursion. Though there are heights, I'd say it's safer than the Grand Canyon, where I would never take small kids.
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