Not many people can say that they got to spend their birthday on the Great Wall of China, but I am happy to say that I got to have that experience this afternoon. Getting to see one of the wonders of the world was truly amazing it is great that I am now able to knock it off my bucket list.
The Great Wall is over 4,000 miles long and took about 2,000 years to build and after seeing it, I am surprised that they were able to build a structure like that so quickly. The paths are smooth for the most part, the side guard walls are still standing, and the stairs were well shaped and smooth. The walking path to get up to the wall could be considered enough cardio for a week. It was about 70 flights of steep stairs and dirt paths in hot weather. All the steps leading up to the wall made my heart feel like it was going to stop physically, but the view from the wall made my heart feel like it was going to stop metaphorically.
The sun was beating down and there was only opportunities for shade every now and then when you would make it top the next guard tower. For most of the guard towers, once inside, there were staircases that would lead to the top sop that you could put yourself in the positions of the guards that stood in the exact same place over a thousand years ago. It also provided some good photo opportunities with its elevated surfaces. Traveling between the towers was a different experience going from tower to tower. Some of the paths were flat while some of the paths were on the ends of large dips making us almost need to climb up the stairs in order to make it to the next tower.
The wall was scenic and beautiful, but the most fun part of the excursion was definitely taking the alpine slide down the mountain from the wall. You would sit in a small cart with a lever in the middle that you would push forward to go faster and pull back to slow down. The track snaked back and forth down the mountain and was pretty steep so it was very easy to pick up speed and fly around the turns. It was surprising how loose the regulations were for a dangerous ride compared to how strict the same thing would have been back in the United States.
When we made it back to the hotel, we did a quick turn around and hit the town. For dinner, we went to the local McDonalds and found that their menu was quite different than ours. The most interesting item on the menu, in my opinion, was a multi-layered burger with lots of onion on a black bun. To order, we needed to point at a portable menu because the person working the register did not speak any English. After dinner, we walked for a few blocks to see some building and stores.
Today was taxing on my legs, but it was a small price to pay for the memories I made.