Day 1: Beijing: The Great Wall + Hot Pot

First official full day in Beijing!! Today we conquered the Great Wall of China! Our tour guide, Joe, gave us a little history and background about the historical site on the bus ride there (which took about an hour). Joe mentioned that there is a Chinese saying that once one has walked up to the wall, they are considered superheroes. At first I didn’t take this seriously. The Great Wall is a popular tourist site and no one mentions the walk up! But they really should have.. They should’ve named it the Great Walk because those stairs were 1) extremely steep and 2) never ending…

Once the stairs ended though, we entered the Great Wall through Tower 10. The towers themselves were chilly inside and had windows that looked out on either side. Once we walked out of the towers we were officially walking on the Great Wall and had an amazing view of the walk ahead. The wall itself is all stone and in between lots of trees on top of the mountain. Every so often there are numbered towers along the walk.

Hayley and I were literally the last ones of the group walking through the Great Wall because we kept stoping for pictures- Dr. Li had to wait for us a lot(sorry Dr. Li). The view of the mountains is pretty cool, during May the mountain was covered with lush green trees. What really amazed me though is how continuous the Great Wall was. The mountains did not look easy to walk or build something on but the wall went through it all.

We had the amazing opportunity to toboggan down the mountain back to the bus. We had control over our speed and brakes and it was such an adrenaline rush! I could feel the wind through my hair as we whipped between trees and mountain. I, of course, snapped some selfies of myself and Hayley(who was behind me) as we rode the toboggans.

For dinner, Dr. Li introduced us to a hot pot restaurant in the mall next to our hotel. The waiters sat us at a waiting table with games, drinks and snacks which I found novel and smart. Once dinner began, I couldn’t stop stuffing myself. We ordered a corn soup hot pot and a red chili pepper hot pot. The meat was so soft it practically melted in my mouth. The last plate they served was noodles but of course dinner isn’t dinner without a show! The waiter “ribbon twirled” with the noodles in order to stretch them out and thin the noodle.

Later at night, a couple other students and I took taxis to a famous street in Beijing known for its night life, San Li Tun. Hailing taxis was an absolute ordeal because of the language barrier so we asked the hotel concierges to write down the name of the street in Chinese to show to the drivers. The street itself was not very crowded because it was a Monday night but I could easily imagine what it would be like on a weekend night.


The toboggan rides
an apron they give each customer at the hot pot restaurant

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