Tripping on the Great Wall
Jiayuguan Travel Blog› entry 10 of 19 › view all entries
September 5th, 2008 – by: nicoleah
The fort is very beautiful (it's the picture I downloaded for the cover of this blog). It's in the middle of the desert but you can see the mountains in the background.
One thing that's starting to get on my nerves is what I would call the only child syndrome. I'm assuming it's part of the result of the fact that the one child policy results in a nation of people who are used to having things their way, that everyone seems to have the "me first" mentality. Every time I try to buy a ticket, a Chinese person will shove up next to me and push their money in the clerks face to get their ticket before me. The strange thing is, the clerks always take care of them first then. Same as getting on planes or walking through buildings, people will shove you out of the way so they can get there first. But the other funny thing is that they seem to be very conforming. When you get to the top of the tower, it's square, so you can either go left or right.
They had a show of dancers and drummers wearing battle regalia from when the fort was used to protect from invaders. They also had a place where you could practice archery and try on samples of the battle gear. I paid the $1 to try the stuff on and a Chinese man offered to take my picture. He must have taken at least 20 photos having me pose with all the different weapons. Then a bunch of Chinese gathered around and were taking my pictures too like a celebrity. A woman then started posing with me which made for some funny pictures. Everyone was laughing and it was a lot of fun, until the woman renting the costumes got mad at the Chinese woman who hadn't rented a costume.
After the tower I walked over to the Great Wall museum which thankfully had English and Chinese descriptions for most things. It had an interesting history of the Great Wall and how it was built.
I next took a taxi up to the more maor part of the Great Wall. There are two spots you can do this in Jiayuguan, my driver clearly took me to the less popular one. I don't reallly understand why it was less popular. I could clearly see the other wall from where I was and the wall I was at had a much better view of the mountains and valley. Anyway, I was essentially alone at the Great wall which was great. This wall is in bad repair, and a good portion of the steps would move when I stepped on them. I nearly fell down the Great Wall! The sun was very hot though, so I used this sunstick that I had with to put on sunscreen when I reached the top.
After the wall, the driver took me to "a place that isn't in my book but is very good" according to the translator she called. I think it is called 1 beacon tower. THis is the place that has the zipline that I was so hoping to do, but it was closed! I was very disappointed. Anyway, this is best described as Jiayuguan's answer to the Grand Canyon. I'm not sure if it's just due to the time of year, but the river looked mostly dried up. They also had models of old soldier's barracks and training facilities. Think Tatooine in Star Wars meets Al Qaeda training camp. The best was a rickety suspension bridge that crossed the gorge.
The driver then dropped me off at a restaurant and I was very disappointed to see it had mostly burgers and pizza on the menu. I ended up with a stir fry chicken because I refuse to eat American in Chinese. All the wait staff were watching a French movie with Chinese subtitles as I ate which was funny.
I then rented a bike for the afternoon which was a lot of fun. I rode to a sculpture garden and then through several local markets before I had to return the bike. A fun day!
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