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Mutianyu and the Ming Tombs

Beijing Travel Blog

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Jon, Christina, and me before we start the Wall
I wasn't really planning on going to the Great Wall again after seeing SiMaTai twice last year, but when two friends came to town and said they wanted to see the wall, I said sure... just another section.  So I arranged for us to go to Mutianyu- it's closer, it's new for all of us, and it's hella better than Badaling.  We got picked up at the obnoxiously early time of 8:25am, and were greeted by our tour guide- Nana.  She explained that it's also her Chinese nickname.  Hey, I can remember it easily since that's what I call my grandmother.  Anyway, it was a couple hours to the Wall, but what a nice ride it was.  In the city, in traffic, conversation flowed, then the views started once we were well away from downtown Beijing.
the other part of the wall that we didn't hike
 

Where I'm from, we've got mountains.  Lots and lots of them.  They're wonderful things called the Green Mountains.  I miss them, not just because it's home, but because Beijing is so darn... flat.  I think they're compensating with the ridiculous amount of high rises.  Now, these mountains aren't towering natural monstrosities, I found them a bit stunted.  But they were mountains.  And as we wound our way through the maze of streets that led away from the traffic, hustle and bustle of downtown Beijing, we were getting closer and closer to something that no other mountain range outside of China can claim- the Great Wall.

We got there around 10:30 and were almost immediately bombarded with calls for us to buy T-shirts, stamps, ice cold water/ Coke and other stuff.
out the watchtower
  We ended up taking the open cablecar up (it's basically a ski lift), much to my scared-of-heights friend.  But she got up there just fine, as did I since I'm not bothered by heights.  Instead, I'm looking up, down, and all-around as the cablecar progressed.  At the top, we had a decision to make- left or right.  The trail to the left was a bit flatter and easier while the one to the right was steeper.  Yup, chose the left.  After a short hike, we were on the wall!  WooHoo!  Our tour guide left us there, and we hiked for a while.

It was perfect Wall weather.  The sun wasn't really out, so there wasn't that strong sunshine that burns my skin faster than a microwave oven (it also helps that I doused my exposed skin in SPF 30 sunblock with some help), the temperatures were around 80 degrees with a good breeze.
a view of Mutianyu from the chairlift
  The greenery around was quite impressive, I don't remember that at SiMaTai.   I was a little worried about rain since some clouds were dark, but luckily we got away with only a few drops.

Hiking this part was a little easier than SiMaTai.  Here, the stairs are intact and there are walls on each side of the path.  Not always at the other section.  The guard towers seemed pretty much the same, and the views here were equally, if not a bit more, amazing.  There were vendors every so often hawking Snickers, water, beer and Coke.  I decided to sit and take it easy for a few minutes when raindrops began falling, mostly on my shoulders.  Luckily, it was only a few drops that didn't turn into a messy cascade that would turn uneven steps slippery.
me!
  But since it didn't rain, the steps stayed dry and the three of us made it back to our tour guide in one piece (with many pictures).

So, how does one get down the mountain?  No, we didn't climb.  No, we didn't take the cablecar.  We took a toboggan!  Yes, we got on toboggans (push the handle forward to go, pull it back to stop) down a path with lots of turns.  It was so much fun!  More fun than the SiMaTai zipline.

After the Wall, we went to a Chinese joint for our tour-included lunch.  I just wish we got to pick the dishes, but Nana chose them instead.  I didn't care for the potato and eggplant dish, especially after I accidentally ate a piece of eggplant.  I didn't touch the mushroom and Chinese cabbage dish.
a view from the chairlift
  The dish with the veggies and thin pancakes was okay, only after I put some of the chicken and rice on the pancake instead.  But I ate enough, and then there was watermelon!

It was about an hour drive through MOUNTAINS to get to the Ming Tombs since the two places are in separate counties.  Along the way, we got an introduction to jade (we had to stop at a jade place for about 10 minutes).  After that- Tombs.  We didn't see them all since they're each so big, we only saw one.  It was cool, but I'm not sure why so many people feel that it's a must-do. 

From the Tombs we stopped at a teahouse for a free tea ceremony.  I'd left that decision up to my two friends since I've been there and done that.  The first tea we had was Jasmine tea.
a view from the chairlift
  I like it, but can't drink too much since the Jasmine scent wreaks havoc with my allergies.  Next up was the Ginseng Oolong tea, always a favorite.  Third, Pu'er- healthy, strong flavor, and I like it and have it.  Last, Lychee black tea with rose tea.  Now, the Lychee black is for flavor while the Rose tea is only for smell.  Another one that I liked, but would wreak havoc with my allergies. 

Yes, I bought stuff.  I got this cool mug that comes with tea strainer and lid, that when filled with hot water, changes color and picture.  Then I also got a container of the Ginseng Oolong tea since I do like Oolong.  And for free I got this clay baby that pees when hot water is poured on his head.  Kinda cool, and it was fun to watch when the tealady demonstrated.

After the teahouse- home.  All in all, it was a great, great day. 
ted332 says:
awesome!
Posted on: Jul 29, 2009
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Jon, Christina, and me before we s…
Jon, Christina, and me before we …
the other part of the wall that we…
the other part of the wall that w…
out the watchtower
out the watchtower
a view of Mutianyu from the chairl…
a view of Mutianyu from the chair…
me!
me!
a view from the chairlift
a view from the chairlift
a view from the chairlift
a view from the chairlift
a view from the chairlift
a view from the chairlift
a view from the chairlift
a view from the chairlift
a view from the chairlift
a view from the chairlift
a view from the chairlift
a view from the chairlift
a view from the chairlift
a view from the chairlift
a view from the chairlift
a view from the chairlift
a view from the chairlift
a view from the chairlift
one of the watchtowers
one of the watchtowers
the chairlift
the chairlift
from the Wall
from the Wall
a hole in the wall
a hole in the wall
watchtower
watchtower
graffiti on the Wall
graffiti on the Wall
out the watchtower
out the watchtower
from the Wall
from the Wall
from the Wall
from the Wall
a hole in the ceiling
a hole in the ceiling
out the watchtower
out the watchtower
out the watchtower
out the watchtower
inside a watchtower
inside a watchtower
the toboggan sign
the toboggan sign
at the Ming Tombs
at the Ming Tombs
the best sign at the Tombs
the best sign at the Tombs
from inside the tomb
from inside the tomb
a crown for the empress (back)
a crown for the empress (back)
(front)
(front)
Beijing
photo by: Deats