I woke up this morning to the sound of Skype – Mom was trying to call me at 6am. I answered it since I’d been asleep for almost 8 hours and was only half-asleep by then anyway. We chatted for a while and then each had to go. Just after we got done, Justin got up. The first day we were here Justin found a hat that was not too bad – it was on the ground but was perfectly clean. Yesterday we lost it – had to be somewhere in Walmart but had no clue where as we were through the whole thing. So he was sad about that still.
Anyway, we then went and got all our finances in order. A lot has gone on in the past few days and we hadn’t tracked the spending very well. After almost an hour, we finally had everything figured out and balanced so no money was missing and we knew where we’d spent everything.
After we left the hotel, we went to Peking University for lunch. It’s good that Justin still had his campus ID so we could get in. We went to one of the cafeteria’s and had lunch. Like most campus’, it was cheap but good. For 16 RMB, we got lunch for both of us and it was very good. We left the university and took a cab so that we could find the train to go to the Great Wall for the afternoon. However, both Justin and the driver didn’t know where the train was so we ended up being dropped off just off of a road. Turns out though that we were way in the wrong place plus the train wasn’t going to be back for over three hours. There’s a picture below of train tracks because we were walking from the taxi and ended up in the middle of no-where and had to cross to the other side of train tracks (across four sets) without tripping or getting run over. I don’t think that’s on the normal tour of Beijing!
After walking for quite a while longer, and jumping over fences, we ended up right at the Walmart entrance from yesterday. So, we went in and Justin checked with Customer Service to see if they found his hat. They didn’t. We then went and took the subway and transferred to a second train. After yet more walking, we finally found the bus that we needed to take – the number 919. The ride took about an hour and a half and went fairly quickly even with the uncomfortable seats (I’m 6’2″ and these seats are made to cram as many Asians in as possible. You do the math). When we got off it was after 3pm already so we really didn’t have that much time. It was super windy so while I was strugling with the wind to get to where the tickets are sold, Justin ran ahead and got them.
We finally got in and it was actually pretty cool. I have a fear of heights which is very annoying as I get vertigo and falling off of a huge mountain doesn’t sound like a good idea. However, this wasn’t that bad. The only bad part was the wind. It was bad enough on the ground, but when you’re up there and there’s almost nothing to break it, it is quite powerful. It wouldn’t be a trip up a very steep structure without me whining about how it’s too steep and how I’m not sure I want to keep going. However, I did anyway. It was worth it most of the way. However, once we were almost to the top of the highest point for where we were at, we decided that it was too dangerous to continue. It was a good decision because the wind was really picking up. Plus, because it was the winter, windy, cold, and at the end of the day, there were very few people actually on the Great Wall. This seemed good to me because then it’s not crowded and you can get better pictures, however if you think about it in terms of it being dangerous because if you fall, how long will it take for someone to be able to help you, it doesn’t seem as great. Once we decided to go down, it really wasn’t that bad. Going down is far far easier than going up, which surprised me. The main reason that it was easier though is because on the way up, we were going against the wind so on the way down, we were going with it and it was making things far easier.
All in all, we were on the wall for about an hour and a half. I wouldn’t go back unless it’s the perfect time of year and the conditions are just right – it’s just not worth it otherwise. It was a cool experience and really, it’s something that you have to do if you go to China, but it really wasn’t the best day to do it although you probably can’t tell from the pictures.
We took another number 919 bus back to Beijing which was very slow. Even other buses were passing the one we were on. After a few traffic jams, we got off the bus and took another which was much much faster. We got off of that and found another taxi who took us to where we were going to have dinner.
Justin and I met two of his friends at a restaurant and they were already there. Once we were called, we took our seats. Our dinner tonight would be a Chinese hot pot dinner. Justin and his friends went through the menu to decide what to order. The hot pot was good as it had a spicy side and a non spicy side. It was a good meal with several different kinds of meats and vegetables – all of which were cooked in the hot pot and then eaten in our own bowls of seasonings. The woman had known Justin since high school so she was the first person who he came out to so she has known Justin for quite a while. The guy didn’t know so he was told after the food was ordered and was perfectly fine with it. He seemed surprised, but I would have thought it was obvious just by looking at Justin. He’s more gay than me. Anyway, fast forward three and a half hours and dinner was over. We got the bill so that we could pay for it (172 RMB), but they both got to it before us. It was very very nice of them to do that for us. The woman said that Justin lent me to them for a while, so it was their payment for it – very nice people. They had spoken lots of Chinese during dinner, but often would come back and speak in English to let me know what was going on or to just chat in general with them.
After dinner we took another taxi back to the hotel. Justin fell asleep fairly quickly, but I wanted to take a shower first, write this post and also call some people. I called Dennis at work (Hi Dennis) and Corey but Corey was at work. I spoke with Dennis for a few minutes however. Since I’ve taken a shower and this blog post is done, it’s time to sleep. I’ll try uploading more pictures overnight so look for those later.
Update 1/13/2009 – Pics have been uploaded