Hey, look at me!! I'm on The Great Wall!!! Do you guys wanna know the best thing about The Great Wall? It really is pretty freaking great!!! Hiking on The Great Wall was just one of the many, many, many items on my bucketlist. I don't know why, but I've always been fascinated by it. Probably all those rumors about being able to see it from space, which NASA says isn't true but the Chinese government still insists it's the only item on Earth that the astronauts can see from way up there. I'm not inclined to think the Chinese government is built on the value of honesty, but I'm also not inclined to think the U.S. government and its' various agencies are any better, so who knows? When I grow up and become an astronaut, I'll let you guys know for sure if you can see it or not.
Anyway, I'll stop rambling and get back to the point: I went hiking on The Great Wall! It's a few hours outside of Beijing, so for much of the ride there I was trying not to get my hopes up so I wouldn't be too disappointed if it sucked. I mean, how great can a wall really be? I'm surrounded by walls everyday, and I spend most of my time counting the seconds until I can get away from them. Well, I should've just taken a nap, because there was no disappointment involved. I had assumed it would be crowded, but once we got past the first tower (about 15 minutes in) there was maybe one or two other people that weren't with our group. I had also thought it might be kind of like hiking in Korea, but it was actually quite challenging and probably the most physical exertion I'd had in a long time. They offered ways to shortcut, like taking a cable car ride to the top and a zip line back down, but I passed on both and completed every step of the hike on my own two feet (sometimes with the assistance of my hands when it got super steep). Yay me! It wasn't really too far - probably only 10K, but man oh man, there were some steep hills with zero footing involved. The whole time I was hiking I had about 3 thoughts running through my head, "How the H E double hockey sticks did they build this freaking thing?!?" "I wonder if I'm walking over the part where they buried all the dead people?" and "HOLY MOTHER OF GOD, PEOPLE ACTUALLY RUN A MARATHON ON THIS FUCKING THING?!?!?" They say that The Great Wall Marathon is the toughest marathon in the world, and I gotta say that they probably aren't joking.
Anyway, here's a gazillion more pics:
And, finally, a well deserved beer at the end of the hike, and me later that evening, after some shopping at the silk market and a yummy dinner of all things involving duck and beer - exhausted in a good way, sunburned, and happy, happy, happy!