75 Flights of Stairs

Day one of Plus3 China (well, technically day two if you count the 2 hours of sleep in Tower C and the 13 hour flight to Beijing, but let’s try our best to forget about that part)! Finally well rested and full of a comprehensive buffet-style breakfast at the Pentahotel Beijing, we began our trek to the Great Wall! The hour long bus ride was an experience in itself, thanks to the scenic views of the city, the traditional Chinese meal halfway through, and especially our charismatic tour-guide, Joe. We arrived at the foot of the path to the wall to find a bustling marketplace full of locals peddling China-related merch (including the iconic “Oba Mao” shirt, pictured). In the excitement of the wares and the recently consumed multi-course lunch, I failed to realize one important fact; the Great Wall of China is built on top of a mountain. And I had just elected to walk to the top  of said mountain rather than take the cable car. As someone who heaves just trying to walk up the six floors to my dormroom, as I looked up at the seemingly endless trail of stone steps, things were looking pretty bleak. It was 89 degrees Fahrenheit and (you guessed it) 75 flights of stairs. 75. Seventy-Five. Flights. Of. Stairs. But thanks to escalation of commitment, I made it to the top. Once I had walked a couple of steps on the wall, thoughts of my burning thighs and lack of oxygen were wisked away by the view of the mountains (almost more breathtaking than the stairs…almost…). I had never seen anything like it and I sure as heck didn’t think I’d brave those stairs ever again, so I did what every tourist must do: take pictures, a lot of them. Close pictures. Far pictures. Pictures of the Wall. Pictures of me on the Wall. Pictures of others on the Wall. Pictures of others AND me on the Wall. It was a great time. An even greater time? The tabbogan slide down. That’s right, a 10-minute slide down a mountain from the Great Wall of China. Those 75 flights of stairs had nothing on my level of glee at taking a huge slide (on which I also took many pictures). After our Great Wall journey came to a close, we headed to a popular hot pot restaurant for dinner. It was definitly one of my most memorable meals; we boiled various food items in a large central pot, complete with sheep meat and a waiter stretching a noodle using a very impressive dance. Today was just the beginning; I can’t even imagine what the rest of my two weeks in China has in store for me. I can’t wait to find out!

 

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