Eat your heart out, Karl Pilkington.
I’ve never really had a defined bucket list outside of ‘go everywhere,’ but seeing [and scaling] the Great Wall of China seems like a must-do on any self-respecting traveller’s itinerary. One our third day in China, my friends and I woke up early, and I was finally able to withdraw some spending cash after breakfast. [I know. I somehow spent two days in China without any money.] Then we all loaded into the bus to go to Badaling, the most popular section of the Great Wall.
My group went up the steeper Southside, on the basis that it was [slightly] less crowded. Our goal was to make it to the top before we had to get back on the bus so we could shop around after, so we tried to move at a decent pace.
We managed to reach our goal in time, so here’s my obligatory goofy victory picture! On the way back down I did end up twisting my ankle a bit, but otherwise we were surprisingly injury free, despite the fact that my friend insisted on RUNNING PARTS OF THE WAY DOWN.
Anyway, after the workout, we went to the little touristy area by the entrance to haggle for some souvenirs/get some lunch before our time in the area was up. It was a beautifully sunny day, and I managed to get some little trinkets on the cheap, although both my haggling skills and my Chinese need some definite improvement!
Our time in Badaling being officially over, we gathered our things and boarded the bus once again to go to a tea ceremony back in the city. I’m an avid tea drinker, so I was super excited! We spent about an hour learning about the different types of tea and their health benefits while drinking. Also, we had adorable tiny cups.
Dinner that night was preceded by a rickshaw ride through a residential hutong area. Due to the educational nature of the tour, I learned a lot of unexpected things about China during my stay, and hutongs are a fascinating aspect of the culture and history of Beijing. They’re essentially courtyard areas that have slowly turned into miniature neighbourhoods with lots of time and modifications, and most are pretty cramped, but very expensive.
The rickshaw ride was followed by a dinner provided by a local family, and we learned more about life in the hutong. I’m going to be straightforward and admit that it felt weird to take a ton of pictures in someone’s home, so here’s this shot of a tiny bird they had out front.
After that, it was a rickshaw ride back to our bus and then a good night’s rest before our last activities in Beijing and flight to Xi’an the next day!
Side note: I’m currently running a giveaway that ends in a few days, so check out the details here before you miss your chance to enter!
And as always, I’m looking for members for Travel On!, a network for travel bloggers that needs both new members and a better name. Here’s the info!