Thursday, November 15, 2012


We battled Beijing morning rush hour traffic to get out to the Mutianyu section of the Wall, located about 70 km northeast of the city.

This distance, elevation and relatively difficult terrain means Mutianyu is less visited than the other two Beijing-area sections of the Wall.
Mutianyu lies in a very mountainous and heavy forested area- at a much higher elevation than I expected. Just getting to the base was steep.

I had read in my researsch that THE BEST banana pancakes were found here and it only took a minute to find her cart. Actually crepes not pancakes, but stay with me..
I stepped right up and surveyed the filling choices; jam, apples and bananas. I requested bananas AND chocolate and tipped her 10 cents for extra chocolate and it was quite possibly the best thing I have ever eaten.

OMG Best Thing EVER!!!

Energized by this feast, we jumped aboard the cable car for a ride up to the summit, having been advised the steep hike up was not scenic and waste of valuable energy. Stepping off at the top, the view was unbelievable. Just as I’d imagined it would be and more.
The “Tail Wall” as it is referred to stretched out above and to the right- along the ridgeline of the mountains. The brisk wind tossed my hair and the fall foliage lit up the whole scene like the dream it was- a lifelong dream come true.

First glimpse-The Great Wall of China

Mutianyu section

I wiped tears away as I took my first steps, running may hands over the bricks as my feet tread the uneven path. It was a very powerful and emotional moment.

This is what making a dream come true feels like

Suzanne and I made our way from watchtower 14 all the way to 21--snapping photos and just stopping to stare at the stunning scenery.
We met a 70+ year old man who told us he was celebrating his birthday that day- what a way to celebrate!
All along the watchtower...

Each watchtower is approximately 300m apart- two arrow shot lengths- so no section was ever left undefended.

Just hanging out--- ON THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA!!!!

Watchtower 20 to 21 was hand-over-hand climbing like a ladder.  It was a tough go but we made it and we felt like a million dollars at the top.

Just another brick in The Wall

First built in the mid-6th century , the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall was rebuilt in 1569, the Mutianyu Great Wall was rebuilt and most parts of it are still well preserved today. Built mainly with granite, the wall is 7–8.5 metres high and the top surface is 4–5 metres wide.

We made our way back a bit more briskly this time- back and beyond—to watchtower number 6—where another adventure awaited us.

View from watchtower 21
All smiles at the summit

That Adrenaline Package provided me with a tobaggan ride back down. In my mind I was picturing an old school wooden toboggan down a snowy slope (now terrifying because of the steep height and densely forested terrain- Sonny Bono Sonny Bono…) No snow in sight---and the meaning had been lost in translation—it was instead a luge!
The money shot

Perhaps that sounds even scarier for you but it wasn’t. The track looked solid and the luges were in good condition. Sure, no helmets and likley some degree of lax safety standards, but they only went about 50k an hour and there were working brakes aboard.
Wheeeeeee!!! Barelling down the track in the bright sunshine, crisp fresh air, surrounded by the beautiful fall foliage was an exhilarating way to end the day.

Of course I had to have another chocolate banana crepe to celebrate the day and recharge my batteries after that strenous 7K hike.

As an added unforgettable day bonus gift with purchase, our driver brought us to the Olympic Park on our way back. Another massively-scaled landscape with striking buildings- the ultimate of which was The Bird’s Nest- the National Stadium. Built for the 2008 Summer Olympics, I always had a shine for this one of a kind architectural marvel and it was thrilling to visit it.

The Birds Nest- Beijing National Stadium

I wrapped up my day with a Kung Fu show that night with Suzanne- an absolutely incredible day and one I will always remember.

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