Day 1: Stairs, Walls, and Slides

The day began for me at around 6:00 am, and I woke feeling refreshed and excited. I spent some time in the room trying to get the internet to work, but couldn’t seem to log in with my android phone or laptop (probably because I was using google chrome). I eventually gave up and went down to the lobby for breakfast. The set up was very interesting, with multiple tables laden with trays of Western and Chinese food. My own plate ended up consisting of scrambled eggs, potatoes, bacon, two types of dumplings, and noodles, which I managed to eat with chopsticks. Afterwards, there was enough time before the bus pickup for us to walk down the street to a convenience store. It was strange seeing so many different flavors and styles of familiar foods like Doritos, Lays, and Oreos. I browsed a bit, and made my first Chinese transaction of 5 yuan for a chocolate roll. The bus soon came and we were set off north to Mutianyu. Even though the ride was pretty long, our tour guide, whose American name was Joe, kept us fairly entertained as the city skyline melted away into forest. Along the way we stopped for another traditional Chinese lunch, which had delicious trout. Once parked, we began the ascent, which consisted of three major parts. First, we had to board another, state owned bus to travel up to the entrance. Then we ventured through the touristy areas, where vendors were extremely aggressive about selling their T-shirts. Lastly, we climbed up one of the longest sets of stairs I’ve ever seen. If I had to guess I would say it was the equivalent of a half dozen chevron steps. But at the top the view was worth it for sure. Just like in the post cards, the wall snaked out east to west into the horizon. I hadn’t expected the surroundings to be so beautiful as well. It kind of looked like a mixture between the smoky mountains in North Carolina and the rockies in Colorado. I wished we could have stayed on the wall longer, but the way down was super fun too. We took these sleds with wheels down the longest slide I had ever been on, and I picked up some good speed before being scolded by one of the workers. Once back in Beijing, a few of us set out to find a good Muslim hotpot restaurant, which was about a mile away. It was an extremely cool experience, and even though we had a hard time communicating with the waiter, we eventually ordered some really good lamb and beef to cook up. I spent the last 3 yuan I had in my wallet on ice-cream, but still had a fun time afterwards as we explored the shops around us.


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