Teresa and Adam’s third day in Beijing didn’t exactly start off on the right foot. This morning their hotel denied them the usual complimentary breakfast, despite paying for the most expensive room. When Teresa got back to her room she realized they didn’t have power. Frustrated and running late, Adam and Teresa checked out and took their luggage back to my apartment. That’s when things got even more interesting.
Yesterday we verbally agreed to a ride to the Great Wall for 400 RMB. Our ride showed up around 9 am this morning. I sat in the car waiting for Teresa and Adam when our translator mentioned “on our way to Mutianyu we will stop at a clothes factory for a tour.” Wait, what the-!? This was not part of the deal. I clarified what the woman said because surely she didn’t plan to take us on a tour of some factory when we agreed to the Wall. She said her company has a deal with the government that requires everyone to tour some factory before going to the Wall. She suggested we tour a silk or copper factory if we don’t want to see clothes. We planned to see the Wall, not a clothes factory and I let her know. I told her we did not agree to tour a factory and we only wanted to see the Wall. “Yes, but you know our government requires this. You know things are different here,” she said. I informed her if she takes me to a factory I would pay her less and not get out of the car. I paid her to go to the Wall and that’s where I’m going. After some “phone calls” she said we would not have to tour the factory. Oh btw, there is also a 45 RMB highway fee. Is this woman trying to push my buttons? I told her it wasn’t in the agreement for a “highway fee” and I’m paying her 400 RMB, nothing more. After a few more “phone calls” she said we didn’t have to pay the “highway fee.” Like I’ve said before, in China everything is possible but nothing is easy.
We arrived at the Great Wall and couldn’t have asked for better weather. The sun beat down on us, and despite a light breeze, once we started walking we warmed right up. We started our day with an American lunch at the The Schoolhouse. We forgot to eat breakfast and needed some energy for hiking the Wall. Hamburgers and french fries certainly did the trick. We gobbled down our food and got ready to tackle the Wall.
Walking up to the Wall we passed vendors selling shirts, scarfs, silks and fox fur hats. Teresa and I both scoped the hats, not because we planned to wear them, but because we wanted to make the tail into a purse chain like the Louis Vuitton Fox Fur Tassel Messenger Bag. Teresa and Adam also wanted souvenir t-shirts so we planned to bargain after climbing the Wall.
The weather today felt like spring in Tri-Cities. By the time we started climbing, we’d all taken off our sweatshirts. I wore leggings, a t-shirt and Nike running shoes and wasn’t cold a bit. Other climbers wore jeans, boots and heavy tops. They dripped in sweat.
We started our hike by going to the left, which was the more challenging hike. It wasn’t bad at first, but with the uneven steps your legs get a killer workout. One incline probably had over 500 steps. We kept on trucking and hiked the most insanely steep steps ever. I honestly think some steps had a 120+ degree incline. At one point I felt like I would fall backwards if I didn’t hold the handrail.
We made our goal of hiking the 500+ steps and felt a huge sense of accomplishment. Ok maybe it was our calves burning… We looked down at the Wall and couldn’t believe how far we’d hiked. What a relief to know it’s mostly down hill from here. We mobbed down hill, at some points almost running. We walked, ran and hiked until we made it to the toboggan. Other visitors told us to take it down and described it as quite a rush. Talk about rush, I felt like I was bobsledding down the Great Wall! Watch a previous visitors video here.
We meandered back to our ride, but obviously stopped for shopping at the vendors. Teresa and I really wanted those fox fur hats. Different vendors had different prices, ranging from over 300 RMB to 120 RMB. I found a vendor selling a ripped fox fur hat with an amazing tail. Bingo! The man started out asking 200 RMB for it. He spoke English, so I told him the hat was ripped. He offered to get me a new hat and I said, “No, I want this hat. You won’t sell it to anyone else because it’s ripped. I’m giving you 60 RMB for it.” He knew I had a point but kept trying to get more money from me. I gave him 60 RMB, took my hat and was on my way. Teresa also bought a brown fox fur hat for 100 RMB. Hello fox tail fringe bags!
Our ride home took a little longer due to heavy Sunday traffic. I think our car was on its last leg, because the entire trip we smelled gas fumes. By the time we got home, I’d probably lost a few brain cells and gained a headache.
We regrouped, changed clothes and cleaned up. After walking all day there is one thing that will make you feel better. Foot massages! We went to Lilly’s and got foot exfoliations and massages. Adam didn’t get one because he doesn’t swing that way, but Teresa and I kicked back while the ladies dug into our tired feet.
By the time we finished we were starved. It had been almost eight hours since our last meal. We took the subway back to my neighborhood and ate at my favorite noodle restaurant. Like always, I ate until I couldn’t eat any more. Adam, who has a hard time with chopsticks, said this is his favorite restaurant so far “because it’s easier to eat the food.” Something tells me we might be coming back here.
Teresa and Adam have been here only three days, and while the days are flying by, they are loooong days. We’ve already crammed so much into so little time. I’ve got work this week, so I won’t have as much to blog about. We’ve got great dinner plans the next few days and I will certainly be there with my camera in tow. Keep checking back for updates. Who knows what we’ll eat!