Survived the second day in the sunny but very windy China. What would be the best way to spend it than to go to the Great Wall of China? 'He who does not reach the Great Wall is not a true man' as the famous Chinese saying goes.
In case you haven’t heard about the legend. The Great Wall is design in such a way with the help of a dragon that traced out the course of the Great Wall for the workforce. The builders subsequently followed the tracks of the dragon.
After seeing Tom Hiddleston’s pictures ( Team Loki FTW), we decided to go to Badaling entrance. It is probably the most famous and the most accessible. I set off from Beijing North Train Station with the hostel’s roommate from Shanghai. The return train’s tickets cost me 12 yuan and the entrance fee for Great Wall is 45 yuan. The train is really comfortable and clean. It took us about 1 and ½ hour to reach Badaling Train Station. While I was at the Wall, suddenly there was a strong gust of winds and luckily I was all bundled up and toasty.
Great Wall is a great place to do people watching. There are so many people from around the world and if you’re lucky you might spot various ethnic people from China. Just a word of advice: If you want to take their picture, it is best to approach and politely ask. In my case, I was turned down but hey, no worries. I have them etched in my memories.
The younger generations however worship the Caucasians. If you're good looking then the possibility of being swarmed by teenagers are extremely high. I saw a couple of boys who had to pose with groups of teenagers at the Great Wall and in town. Good news for us Asians, no?
It is said that this section is the easiest but if your ideal way of spending the day is being a couch potato then consider yourself being warned. With layers of shirts and jacket, strong winds plus the steep structure I bet most of us will be gasping for air after reaching the first tower. I kid you not! So peeps, know your body limit.
After two days in China, I believe I have enough stuff to share with you guys. Feel free to add in the comment section if you think that I have gone bonkers and talk bollocks or if you have better tips. Sharing is caring!
Want to experience Great Wall of China but not sure if it's a good idea? Read on, then.
- Bring your own food since the cafes are expensive and you are certain that yours are halal food. Spending 30 yuan for hot chocolate that tastes like drain water, not that I have tasted it but you get the idea.
- Go early so you have enough time to walk through all the towers. I didn’t have much time to spend as my friend had to be at the airport by 730pm. But we have been there, so we’re heroes!
- Pay attention when climbing up or walking down. There might be some people stopping for pictures and whatnot. You wouldn’t want to roll down the Wall like a porcupine or start a ruckus that might lead to being thrown out of China, would you?
- Pay extra attention when walking. The older generations are still spitting around like nobody’s business. Enough said.
- When holding on to the rail to move up or down, please be cautious since most of the railings are old and rusty. I cut my finger while holding to the rail on my way down. Suffice to say that I learnt it the hard way.
- Bring your gloves and scarf since the wind is really strong during autumn.
- Wear walking shoes or something that really is comfortable. The keyword is comfort, so go figure what’s the best shoe for you.
- Pickpockets are everywhere so pay extra care with your belongings.
Some of the subway stations in Beijing have wonderful murals and modern architecture. Try to take Line 6 to see the murals around. But before you embark on the subway, I list here some tips based on my experiences. Do at your own risk.
- There’s no such thing as lining up or letting people coming out from the train first. If you’re a bully in real life then I suppose you won’t face any problem. Should you take the subway during peak hour, be prepared to push your way in and out. It’s pushed your way or misses the train situation. Your pick.
- Concern about your personal space? Subway is not the way to go. Same reason as above.
- When in doubt, approach the volunteer guard with the red armband or the Subway’s securities. Or like in my previous posting: Ask the guy and not the girl.
- Life will be much easier if you can get someone to write your destination in Chinese characters. Just show it to anyone and most of them will be more than happy to show you the way.
- Your bag will be scanned at the security check. So be vigilant. And please, no fire crackers!
After Beijing Olympics 2008, most of the places in China have modern toilets to cater the tourists’ need. So many stories being told by friends who have visited China, and the most popular story circles around the horrific encounter at the toilet. Hence, I prepared myself mentally by watching “An Idiot Abroad”. I can’t congratulate Karl Pilkington’s enough for braving the toilet challenge in China.
- Bear in mind that China’s toilet is mostly Asian’s squatting toilet. If you have strong knees then good for you. If not, then best of luck!
- Their toilet is not built to flush down non-body fluid. Throw your tissues and whatnot in the garbage bin.
- Do not; I repeat do not push the toilet’s door, which seems to be vacant. The older generations have yet to grasp the concept of locking the door. Either wait or let the cleaner show you which toilet is vacant.
No concrete plan for the last day in Beijing. What I am sure of is to prepare the food supply for the 2 days train’s journey to Ulan-Bator. Yeehar! But most probably, I will just be sitting in Starbucks and watch the China’s young generations living the American Dreams in their GAP’s and Nike Air's. Ciao!
P/s : Sucky Wi-Fi at the hostel so I could only post one pic. Bear with me, will ya?