So much for an “early start.” Especially on a holiday like Qingmingjie (清明节), leaving the hotel at 8 a.m. really is not early. As a result, we encountered ridiculous traffic on the way to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall. When we were almost halfway there, we made a rest stop, where I noticed that adults and children alike liked to hang out on the side of the road walking along the sewers.
And man, the bathroom situation was, by far, the worst I have ever encountered. Warning: Skip ahead if you’d rather not read about China’s terrible bathroom conditions. I warned you. So, after waiting in a line with about 30 other women on the corner of a building, we approached a temporary bathroom contraption. Underneath the rude structure was about 10 literal square holes in the ground, through which you could see everything flowing in one direction. But get this: That’s all there is—meaning you could see everyone doing their business while squatting within a few feet of each other. LOVELY.
Luckily, we had about two hours to cleanse our memories of that experience before arriving for lunch at a restaurant near the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall. We had originally planned to climb the Great Wall before lunch, but given that we had been stuck in traffic for four hours for what should have been a 1.5-hour ride, we had to make some changes.
In addition to the food arriving literally as we were still walking in and taking our seats, we encountered another pleasant surprise: The restaurant’s name was Xiao Long Pu! Ah, I miss our pedicab driver Liu Xiaolong already!
In the end, eating before the Great Wall worked out well (as long as we didn’t stuff ourselves that much), because we were able to spend at least three hours climbing and, of course, taking artsy photos on the Great Wall. A friend and I started saying “art” whenever we encounter artsy photo opportunities (extremely often). #artography #ART
I absolutely loved the Great Wall. I can now say I’ve climbed it twice and even ran down it in flats. Yeah, I wore flats—partly because I packed light and partly because I knew I would be fine, given that I had “hiked” it last year in sandals. It’s all good. Plus, I’ve realized that running down the steep parts is much easier than walking down slowly, which simply takes too much control. Letting loose adds to the fun.
Oh, and I tobogganed down the Great Wall twice, too 🙂 WOOO. So much fun.
And if you can believe it, the day wasn’t over yet. After returning from the Great Wall, we felt ravenous. Instead of going to a restaurant nearby our hotel, we walked to the Wangfujing Night Market for fried dumplings, fried dough (basically funnel cake but in ball form), and glazed fruit on a stick. I didn’t dare try snake or anything too adventurous, but I must say I loved everything I ate.
Afterward, a few of us went to check out the famous Houhai again—this time, at night, when the exciting life of locals and expats really begins.
All in all, it was a long but certainly adventurous and unforgettable day. 🙂