As we approached the Great Wall of China by bus I was excited to see the mountains come into view and the bricks of the wall snaking across the ridge into the distance.
China has so far been full of surprises, and the wall was no different. Firstly, I imagined it to be covered in hoards of people all jostling for prime positions for photos. This wasn’t the case at all, I was quite often able to get photos that were either devoid of people or only had a few others in sight.
There are different sections of the wall to visit – I went to the Mutianyu section which was about an hour and a half from the centre of Beijing by bus. Another thing that surprised me is that you can get a cable car up to the top and a toboggan back down the mountain – it looked like a lot of fun. Sadly the toboggan was out of order because of the rain. Major disappointment.
The rain was so heavy I had to double up on the coats: my not-very-waterproof coat and a spare poncho I bought in Borneo. I think you’ll agree I look pretty sexy. The winds were strong and kept inflating me like a balloon.
We were lucky that the fog had lifted so I wasn’t too bothered by the weather. Some of the wall is quite a difficult climb so the cooling wind and rain was nice at times. After about 3 hours of walking I decided I’d burnt enough calories and met up with the rest of the group I’d come with for lunch. We avoided the rather out-of-place Subway and had a huge Chinese feast. The highlight was sitting next to an old American guy who looked and spoke just like Larry David, with the same sly grin and wicked sense of humour. I wished I could have spoken to him and his wife for longer, I reckon they’d be a right laugh to know. It’s a shame you only get brief meetings with people when you’re on the move all the time.