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Trip To The Great Wall 長城

(After going up countless number of stairs and wishing for death to hit me, I finally reached the Great Wall at Mutianyu.)

There are many parts of the Great Wall that tourists can visit, but Mutianyu is the only part of the wall that is surrounded by mountains and beautiful scenery. In fact, over 95% of this section is forest. The whole section of the Great Wall stretches like a flying dragon if you look closely. Mutainyu is in the Huairou District of Beijing. It has more enemy towers in comparison to the other parts to visit and has the most historical significance. Perfect for Asian history lovers like me! Mutianyu is also the least touristy of the great wall sections, so if you want to avoid a lot of the people selling you crap or avoid having loads of people showing up in your pictures, then this is the place to go! It was a 2 hour drive from Tsinghua University to Mutianyu, but the longer ride was worth it. 

But let's get to the food first. We ate 5 minutes from Mutianyu.

This restaurant's food did not taste good. I didn't catch what type of Chinese food there were serving, which didn't really matter because the food was overall BAD.

Our group took up 3 tables full of teachers and students that wanted to participate in the field trip. (Our summer program plans 2 field trips for us. One every month because the rest of the time we are slaving away at our Chinese homework.) The steamed tofu in the first picture was tasty. Nothing I'd go back to this place for though. The Japanese do it much better. I also picked out all the chestnuts in the second dish because I thought everything else did not meet my expectations. Little did I know that I should have ate more... because I was going to have no energy for climbing that great wall.

Their fish was actually pretty tasty. Everything else wasn't worth noting. The bread seriously tasted like cardboard. Whatever Chinese ethnic food this is, needs to seriously stay put because I did not appreciate their overall craptastic food. I also was forever scarred from their "bathrooms," aka non-flushable holes in the floor that were going to suck me in at any moment. After forcefully chowing down on some not so great food, we got on the bus and arrived very soon at the Great Wall where we were greeted by this:

A woman wearing and holding everything she was selling & some awesome "English" signs. This one reads: "Enjoying Chinese Great Wall Also Mr Cao's Camel." I was also greeted by a gazillion stairs that had no ending. You don't just walk in and go straight to the Great Wall. Apparently you go up hundreds of high, thin, bee-infested stairs forever before you finally reach part of the wall. As you can tell, I was not a happy camper. I thought I was fit. I wanted to die. The last time I visited the Great Wall was well over 10 years ago, but since I was with my mom who was wearing heels, we ended up just walking for 10 minutes, taking some pictures and leaving. Mutianyu was not the case! 

When I finally made it up, I had to choose between the easier route or the harder route that had better scenery. Figuring I wouldn't be back at the Great Wall for awhile, I took the harder route with some classmates. Upon reaching the top, we were faced with a decision as well as with some confusion. We could 1) go back down the way we came up (Hell No!); 2) ride a cable car down; or 3) ride a "wiegand" down. The most confusion was trying to figure out what the hell a "wiegand" was.

I'm guessing that "wiegand" meant "wagon." This contraption did not look extremely safe, but since safety is never a big concern in China, I figured why start worrying now? From reading the Chinese, we deciphered that the signs were for the widely popular method of returning down from the Great Wall called the "Shibide Slideway," which was basically a sort of slide/dry bobsled that took you down on a scenic route down the Great Wall. 

Let me help you make sense of their signs in case you are not an expert in Chinglish like me. I will retain their original spelling and grammar mistakes. 

Sign #1 reads: "Dotice to visitors: Toboggan is a dangerous sport, You must follow the notice of the Tobogganto drive, If you don't follow the rules, it will be at your own risk,Our company is not responsible."

Translation: Notice to all you people stupid enough to try this ride. If you die or seriously hurt yourself, don't bother suing us because we don't care and are not responsible. It's dangerous, yo. 

Sign #2 is completely misspelled but tells you that you pull the handle towards you to brake and away from you to go faster. 

(Here's a picture my friend took of me on the "wiegand" and also a picture I took while going down the slide. I also took a live video of my ride down so I could show off the scenery, which I'll post when I'm allowed to go on Youtube, aka when I'm out of China.)

And of course after reading all those informative signs, I thought it would be a great idea to plummet to my death on the Great Wall and promptly bought my ticket. Once we got down, one of our other classmates was recounting an argument he got in with the woman that was selling the slide tickets. For the record, all my classmates speak perfect Chinese to each other even though most of my them are not Asian. It's actually quite impressive to the point where Chinese people are taking pictures of them all day.

Classmate: (In Chinese) "How much are the tickets? Do we leave from here?"
Woman: (In Chinese) "I don't understand you."
C: "What do you mean you don't understand me? You're answering me!"
W: "Oh.. well I just don't understand you."
C: "You're only saying that because I'm white and you're pretending you don't understand me!"
W: "Oh... well...Whatever. The ticket is $50."
C: "See you didn't understand me, you wouldn't be answering my question! Stop lying- it's cause I'm white!"
W: [Turns around and ignores him.]

And there you have it, Chinese hospitality at its best! I think it's best to have no standards when dealing with Chinese people, therefore you are never disappointed.

Haha. I think the woman was a little dumbfounded that my classmates were totally not taking her crap. China definitely has issues getting their customer service or tourism down. They really aren't foreigner friendly. I really don't know how they pulled off the Olympics, especially looking at their horrible English signs. Wasn't there some law that encouraged people to report any misspelled signs or anything to the government before the Olympics? Major fail. 

Other than that, the Great Wall was the most exercise I've done in at least 4 years. I would definitely recommend visiting the Mutainyu location over any other location. The pictures we got were great because there were not a gazillion people in the background. The food.... was definitely no bueno though!

FYI, don't forget to bargain for drinks or snacks on the Great Wall. Yes, they even try to rip you off for drinks cause they know you need it. 

Happy Eatings!

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