Day 2: Great Walls and Language Barriers

Today I woke up pretty early at around 5am. I got ready and went down for breakfast at the hotel. I was excited to see what breakfast was like at a hotel in China. To my surprise a lot of the foods provided were western like various breads like croissants and pound cake. There were also scrambled eggs and bacon. What I found different was that they also served buns, dumplings, noodles, and rice. I thought that was pretty interesting because to someone from America that might seem like lunch or dinner food but yet at this hotel it was being served at breakfast, with chopsticks of course.

After that we started our very long bus ride to the Mutianyu area of the Great Wall. This is one of the most visited, and most restored parts of the Great Wall. As we got closer to our destination we stopped along the road leading up to the entrance.  We stopped at a beautiful restaurant that was kind of outside like a pavilion. We then had lunch which was kind of different from the dinner we had last night but still good, because we got to taste more of traditional Chinese foods. As we walked through the entrance there were numerous little shops leading up to the Wall. There were people selling all kind of souvenirs like t-shirts, hats, toys, and other trinkets. But, where the shops stopped, the long journey began.

Now to get to the top of the wall, there were two options which were to take the chair lift, or to hike up the side. If it weren’t my first time coming to the great wall I would have definitely taken the chair lift but I wanted to say that I had climbed up the Great wall, so I chose to climb up what seemed like millions of steps with everyone. As we were making our way up, I had a goal. I told myself I wouldn’t regret, at least openly regret, not taking the chair lift until I was at least halfway up the wall. The funny thing is I think broke that promise within one fifth of the way but after that never again; I kept going. It was extremely exhausting, but it was still fun because I was with my friends and we took lots of breaks for pictures, water, and to just enjoy the view. The view was amazing especially as you get higher and higher up the trail. We climbed up the 70 stories, 4000 steps and 20 minutes of pain but it was glorious in the end. Making it to the top felt nothing less than victorious. I conquered the Great Wall today! Everything was so beautiful including the architecture of the wall and especially the view from the wall. I think the most fun part about the Great wall visit was how we got down. We went with the toboggan down which was so fun because it was like going down a big swirly slide on a cart.

When we got back to the hotel all I wanted to do was sleep into tomorrow, but my friends insisted we venture out to get dinner. This was our first time out and about in China with no guide who could translate, and man was it a culture shock. I didn’t realize how heavy the language barrier would impact our mobility around China.  For some reason I didn’t expect it to be so hard to find people who knew English in China, but I was wrong. First, we ran into problems trying to find the restaurant we wanted to go to. We went around trying to ask people, trying to translate, but it was of no help. Eventually we found our way by showing pictures of the restaurant to people and just looking utterly confused so they knew to point us in the direction of the restaurant. That was a major key to our success that evening. We finally found the restaurant we were looking for, but then came the problem of ordering food. We and the waiters were just going back and forth in endless confusion, until we accepted defeat and left. It was so embarrassing, but we felt like we had enough physical and mental stress in one day and just needed something to eat. We ended up going to the restaurant right next door, where surprisingly the ordering experience was much easier. Everything on their menu was pictured and priced so it was no problem pointing and receiving our food. After we had our meal we came back to our hotel and just went to bed. Today I conquered the Great Wall and kind of sort of almost conquered the language barrier. What a day!

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