The Beijing Narrative: The Great One

I’ve held it for so long already, and I think I was ready to do it.

Last night, I did some research and consulted the hostel staff, as well some travelers to see how I could do the Great Wall on a shoestring budget. There was a choice of seeing the Great Wall either at Badaling, Simatai and Miyun, but it turns out that Badaling, the most touristy, has the most spectacular of views. After a rather nice rou-bing (piping hot, buttery and mutton…), I hopped onto the Subway and headed for Jishuitan station, and walked east to Deshengmen bus station. Since I had the Beijing public transport card, I was charged only 24 Yuan for the ride. There was a “guide” who accompanied us the entire route, and a woman selling really cheap bottles of water (5 Yuan per bottle) – I surmise it’s a symbiotic relationship. With their help, they inject a certain integrity to the tourist attraction, which provides visitors a good impression, and guarantees them repeat visits. If you’re wondering, I notice I’m one of the only handful of foreign tourists who use the Beijing public transport bus service to the Great Wall (Most tourists come here as part of a tour).

It took quite a while to leave the urbanization that is Beijing, but once we did, the scenery was nothing short of spectacular. I’m not sure why I didn’t take any picture (probably cos’ it’d be blur, I suppose) but soon, the urbanity gave way to vast stretches of nothing but reddening and yellowing trees. Also, there was the occasional but consistent derelict and abandoned European-style church littered throughout. This is China after all, and even that wonderful display of autumn in full bloom abruptly gave way to rough and steep ridges. In fact, it’s so cruel looking it looked like scars, and were mostly devoid of plants.

I was back by after lunchtime around 3pm. I had quite a bit I wanted to see but to be honest, I didn’t want to go anywhere, so I didn’t. I just feel utterly tired, both physically and mentally. Firstly, I was badly missing Andy yesterday already. Secondly, I had challenged myself to get to the highest point at Badaling in the fastest time permitted. It was tough, with winds from the Siberian anti-cyclone blasting every nook and cranny, and around every corner – the strong sunlight was a mere illuminating source, and did absolutely nothing to heat up the situation. I wanted to stop, I’ll admit, but I persevered for that whole 4 hours… And I’m glad I did.


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