Most people just want to go up the Burj Khalifa in Dubai because it is the highest building in the world, but Shanghai Tower’s observatory deck is actually a little bit higher than Burj Khalifa’s. And after seeing the views from both towers, I can say that the view over Shanghai is more amazing!
I was really excited for this day since I have arrived in Beijing.
I woke up early in the morning, had breakfast and waited until it was time to be picked up by the driver.
I remember that the pancakes were bitter as hell. At first I thought it was the chocolate sauce, but I realized it was the pancakes. I guess they forgot to put sugar inside or something. I have no clue.
Anyway, there was another family of four waiting with me. They were speaking spanish and their 2 sons were around the same age as me. I started talking to them in the bus and found out that one of them was actually working in China and his brother and parents came to visit him. Now they were travelling around China together. As fas as I can remember, they were from Madrid. They were really friendly.
Our driver let us out at one point so we could change into a bigger bus. There were different young people from different hostels all being picked up into this one big bus. Most of the people seemed to be from the US, but there were some Europeans as well.
With this bus, we drove around 1 hour again until we arrived at the Mutianyu Section. This is one of the oldest sections of the Great Wall, that’s also why it was so far out of the city. There are different sections you can choose at your hostel. There is a renewed, more touristy section, close to the city which seems to be always very filled up with people though.
When we arrived, we got our tickets and took the cable car up the Wall. Walking would take too long and we wouldn’t be as high up with such a great view over the great Great Wall. We had to pay extra for the cable car, but it was okay. Some people walked up, but I am glad I didn’t walk. I would have been pretty exhausted, and I think I couldn’t have made it back again, since our meeting time would be after 3 hours (which, in my opinion, is quite enough for a massive wall like that, because I just possibly, couldn’t walk any further after those 3 hours).
After being up after the cable car, we were rewarded with an amazing view.
If you think these pictures are breath-taking, then you should try climbing up that wall, and you will know what it means when your breath is literally taken away :’D
It was a very, very exhausting ascension. At first, I walked together with the two guys from Spain, but the steps were getting steeper and more irregular, which means that the height and width of the steps is irregular, so it is more exhausting to climb them up.
At some point, I had to tell those guys to just go ahead and not wait for me, since I had to pause every 5 minutes or so.
A little recommendation for the future: if you plan on climbing up the Great Wall, be prepared. Run marathons if you want to, but make sure your condition is good, because that Wall is a huge chunk, even if you only walk a small section of it. I wasn’t fit at all, and I actually thought I was gonna faint and tumble down the steps.
But while I was trying to climb up the stairs and pausing every 5 steps, I met a girl from America, Lisa, and she was struggling as well. We started talking and motivated each other to climb up the stairs. Before the last watchtower, there were almost vertical steps leading up, and I actually thought twice before climbing them up. I felt like a goat (which I actually am regarding my chinese zodiac sign :’D)
Anyway, we did it together, and up there, a man was selling drinks and snacks. Since I felt quite dizzy, I really wanted that snickers. It was around 4 times more expensive than a regular snickers you could get at a shop, but I really, really wanted it. And I don’t regret it until this day, because it was the best snickers I ever had. After that day, I started to have a special appreciation for snickers :D
At that last watchtower, there was a sign that using the following path is on own responsibility, since that part has not been restored properly, and it said that parts of the rocks could break which was actually true. Lisa and me decided to continue walking after a short break. The next part of the Mutianyu section was pretty isolated and really old. It was still a wall, but some parts were so broken, that it was quite dangerous walking on them.
We came across a woman who sold snacks and drinks as well, but what caught my eye were the red wish ribbons she was selling for 20 rmb (around 3€). I really really wanted to do something like that in China, so I bought one. You could choose a character (Love, Family, Fortune, Luck, or Career), and could write down names or a wish on the ribbon. I chose Family and wrote down the names of my parents and siblings. Then, we could tie it around on one of the trees around there.
Lisa did it as well, and then the woman took a picture of us. She was actually really friendly and such a cute woman. We got into talking to her, how she walked ALL (!) the steps up there every morning to sell her stuff to the true travellers, the heros as she called us and others who made it up to her. I was madly impressed by her and I am sure that this woman is probably gonna live at least until her 80s. I decided to buy a souvenir for my cousin there, since she really wanted a magnet from China and that woman was selling some beautiful ones. She was also selling beer and she kept them in the wall between the stones :’D pretty clever!
Soon, we had to say goodbye to her and head back to the cable car to meet up with the group for lunch. Lisa and me collected the last bits of our strength and walked down. Of course it was easier, but we could feel how heavy our legs were getting and we still had the almost-vertical steps at the last official watchtower.
This was after we walked down the steepest and longest part of the stairs. After I stood still, I realized how my legs were shaking. It was insane. I have never been so exhausted before.
When we finally met for lunch and had all the food in front of us, I was delighted. It was probably the best-tasting lunch I ever had. It was just the most simple chinese food you can think of, but everything was infinitely delicious.
Unfortunately, our trip was already over, and we soon found ourselves back at the bus. This time, I sat next to Lisa and we talked all the ride through about why we came to Beijing, what else we wanted to see here, and what our next travel plans in China were. She only came to travel, but she wanted to see as many places as possible before returning back to the US. We both wanted to see the Kung-Fu show, so we thought we might see each other again. That would be funny, actually.
When I got back to my hostel, I decided to sleep for a little bit again until it was time for the Beijing opera show. The driver took me to the place again. I was there pretty early, so I lost myself in the souvenir shop and bought SO. MANY. THINGS! I want you guys to be cautious with your money in Beijing, because those sales people are pros. They will manipulate you in such a gentle and smooth way into letting you think that you absolutely need that picture or tea set or whatever it is you are going to buy.
Yes, I bought a beijing opera mask, not this one on the picture though, but a similar one, and it hangs on my wall now. I actually don’t regret it. To be honest, the stuff they were selling at the opera shop was pretty useful and of very nice quality. I did buy a lot though. A mask, a bunch of bookmarks, 2 pouch bag sets, and one tea cup set that I actually bought as a gift for my father’s aunt.
The Beijing opera itself was actually a bit disappointing. I actually liked the Sichuan opera way better.
After the opera, I still wanted to have some good dinner, so I took a taxi to the famous duck restaurant, DaDong Roast Duck Restaurant. It looked extremely fancy and I kinda felt weird there, all alone, but I just ignored it and tried to have a fab time, which I did.
First of all, they cut the duck into its pieces right in front of you. Plus, you get a lot of free stuff, like that red bean soup or strawberries for dessert.
The restaurant was a bit expensive of course. I spent around 200 rmb for all of that (around 25€), which I think is quite okay for the location, the food and the extraordinary service. If I didn’t buy the extra chiezi and that other yellow dish, I would have even paid less.
This dinner was the perfect end to that adventurous day.
Have you guys ever been to the Great Wall? Would you like to go?