The Great Wall


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  • July 21, 2017

We have been off the grid for a couple of days. Yesterday morning we were picked up early from our hotel in Beijing, and we travelled 2 1/2 hours by car to do an intrepid hike of the Great Wall where not many tourists go. Our guide said last night we were not tourists, we were ‘hard core hikers’!

We got a bit of a shock, as the first hill was straight up 900 meters and it was damn hot at 10am. We both wondered what on earth we had signed up for. We felt so slow and sluggish – but our guide Peter was amazing and very patient, and said just to go at our own pace. He kept producing treats at every stop – snickers bars, frozen water, cold beer – even an iced coffee in a can. He had done this trek many times, so obviously knew what would go down well. And of course my man with his heart condition was finding walking 1km to our letterbox challenging before we left home, so this was quite a mission for him. It was truly fascinating. Stunning scenery and even though it was hard slog for 6 hours, we did start to bump in to tourists who had gone up the gondola after about 3 hours (cheats!)

Steps were so steep in some places I just couldn’t quite make the stride & David had to hoist me up from behind! We were absolutely wasted last night. We had accommodation at a homestay 2 hours away from where we finished yesterday so we could be up bright and early to start the second walk today. We were up at 4:15am to avoid the heat, and started another walk at 5:55am. This one was easier, but still really hard work, even though it was a bit cooler. We didn’t quite see the sun rise as it was too cloudy, but managed 6 kilometres of rugged track in 4 hours, and
we both feel as though we have conquered Mount Everest!

It was a pretty remarkable feat actually, especially for David. We are now back at our hotel in Beijing for one more night, and then we travel by bullet train tomorrow morning to have a week in Shanghai with Willie & Amelia. Tonight we are booking in for a foot and leg massage, our thighs are SO STIFF we can hardly walk!!! And David is feeling pretty shattered, so it will be a quiet night in tonight!

China has been so interesting. The speed of development here is super fast and there are new buildings going up everywhere, and new bullet train tracks. We have been so fortunate to have had good English speaking guides who have given us such a great experience, despite the heat being a challenge for me, and communication has at times been very confusing and challenging. We have decided we would like to do a language class when we get home to learn Mandarin, and think we will probably come back here again some time. 4 weeks is not long enough to see everything!

The food has been another highlight. It’s hard to pick something off the menu from a picture as nothing is recognizable. After our hike today we were able to go back to the homestay to have showers and pack up our gear and before we were delivered to the hotel, Peter took us out for Mongolian ‘Hot Pot’. Really yum! But I will write a food blog next time, as this was only one of a few amazing meals we have had since being in China.

Because I have drunk so much water this trip due to the heat, I am retaining fluid, and I’m sure once we get home the weight must drop off, as right now I’m pretty puffy. I have dripped and sweated more than ever before, and it’s probably been one of the biggest hurdles I have needed to jump over this trip.

But I still reckon hiking 15 kilometres of the Great Wall is one of my biggest achievements to date. It truly was a remarkable experience, despite the pain and the heat and the sore bones during and after. Something I can check off my bucket list. Been there, done that, and I might even buy a tee-shirt (for David- the overcomer).

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