May 7, 2018
I woke up to the surprise that I wasn’t feeling too jet-lagged. I was actually pretty refreshed and couldn’t wait to get to visit the Great Wall of China, something I have wanted to see ever since I was younger. Before leaving, some people and I went to exchange some of my U.S. dollars for Chinese currency, RMB or yuan. The conversion rate is around 6:1, so one dollar would be equivalent to six yuan. After getting our money, we hopped on a bus and headed to one of the wonders of the world!
The drive to the Great Wall was a long one, especially with traffic. Luckily, we had an entertaining tour guide on our bus. He was a very good at telling different stories and made many jokes to keep us engaged for the majority of the bus ride. The guide gave us lots of information about the history of Beijing as well as the Great Wall itself. We had stopped at a restaurant and had a delicious lunch full of vegetables, fish, beef, pork, and chicken. With full stomachs and an abundance of stories later from our guide, we finally arrived to what we were all waiting for.
We made it to the entrance and before we began our journey up, we made a quick restroom break. A huge difference between U.S. bathrooms and ones in China is that there are no raised toilets. In each stall is basically a flat toilet where you have to squat in order to go. I have not needed to use one yet, but when I do, it will truly be an experience. You also have to bring your own toilet paper which is interesting as well.
I couldn’t wait to get onto the Great Wall, but once we got to the bottom, my eyes widened and my jaw dropped. There were so many stairs to be climbed in order to get to the top. One of the groups immediately dashed up, leaving my group in the dust. Speed didn’t matter, so we took a steady pace up to the wall. Although it was a beautiful day, it got quite hot considering we were mostly directly in the sun during this climb. It wasn’t long before I felt a drip of sweat slowly falling down the side of my face. The heat was getting to all of us. By the time we made it to the wall, the majority of us were exhausted!
However, each drop of sweat that covered my body was worth it. No words could describe the view that I saw from the top of that wall. Although some smog was visible in the air across the land, the scenery was breath-taking. Lots of pictures were taken, as expected. We walked the equivalent to 113 flights of stairs along the Great Wall within an hour or two, but it felt like ages. Yet, I definitely could’ve stayed on the wall for much longer, enjoying the view with the light breeze cooling me off. The time did come where we needed to leave, but we ended our adventure with a toboggan ride down the mountain, which was really cool.
The Great Wall played a very important role in China’s history and I still can’t believe that I had stood right on top of it. No matter how sweaty I was, it didn’t matter because it was for an unforgettable experience.