On our first full day in Beijing, we went to easily the most famous landmark in China, the Great Wall. The section of the wall that we went to was well outside of the city, even outside of Beijing’s seven rings. So, we were in a rural area. On the way there I noticed something about it, China can be really dusty in some areas. I do not mean that it is dirty, quite the opposite, Beijing is one of the cleanest and liter free areas that I have ever been in. I am talking about all the pollution and dust that is in the air. In some parts, it looks like there is a hefty layer of dust over all the buildings, plus most buildings that I have seen in China have thick plastic sheets meant to keep dust out that you must pass throughout enter the building. It’s just unfortunate that such a beautiful country has such an air quality problem, but improvements are being made and hopefully in the coming years air pollution won’t be a problem anymore.
We also met our tour guide for the day on the bus ride to the wall, Joe. Joe is an absolute blast to be around, as he is a funny and personable guy. He often talked about issues that China is currently facing, like the population crisis caused by the infamous One Child Policy and the air quality in Beijing. Everybody absolutely loves him, and we all got to know him as “Uncle Joe.” He was with us for the entirety of our visit to the Great Wall.
When we arrived at the visitor’s center for the section of the wall that we visited, I had the experience to try and use a squatty potty. Squatty potties are toilet that are built into the floor, so you must squat to use them. They are extremely common in China, with almost every public restroom having them. They are nice in some respects, as squatting is the way that the human body is designed to go #2, but it can also be precarious to balance on them and the stall do not provide you with toilet paper. As a first try, I had an overall good experience with squatty potties, but I do not plan to use another one anytime soon.
After making it through the visitor’s center, we were finally within sight of the great wall. Unfortunately for us, it was situated on top of a mountain. By the time that we hike all the way up the mountain, I was already exhausted and sweating my butt off. Navigating the great wall was worse. It was all just going up and down steps that would change your elevation by a solid hundred feet. I was even more exhausted and sweaty by the end of the Great Wall trip. Don’t get me wrong, the views are beautiful, and the Wall has been masterfully preserved, but it sucks navigating it.
At the end of our visit, we had a fun toboggan ride down the mountain that was relaxing and a lot of fun. We then boarded the bus and made our way to the hotel. That night all of us went out to the Olympic park and a nice street market to finish out the night.
Overall it was a fun day,