Entering the Great Wall
So after my morning workout in the park I was picked up by my impromptu tour guides, and we were off to deal with Beijing
's traffic jams. The traffic didn't get really that bad until we got to the one road out of Beijing through the mountains, which caused all the traffic to be very tight. I later found out that the law forces the freight trucks out of the city during the day to combat the pollution (and share the love with the neighbors!), so they make the trips out of the city early morning and then return late afternoons. As we got close to the wall it was visible here and there beyond the crush of big rig trucks blocking all sides of our car. After a little more than an hour of this we made it to the wall, and our driver (Chun's mum) could go to sleep! We made the obligatory stop at the Starbuck's before summitting the Great Wall of China.
It is official now
A thick layer of sunscreen went on and we hit the wall after buying a ticket. I was surprised at how steep it was in places, and the steps and stones were worn from countless generations of soldiers, slaves, and tourists. I stopped to get my picture in front of a famous marker that states: 'You are not a hero until you have been to the Great Wall". Well I guess now it is official. I have previously read that tough guys drink whiskey, but heroes drink cognac, and so now I have all my points covered, except for an actual act of heroism! Anyhow, we kept moving and a couple of times were almost overcome by these super loud mouthed asian ladies, speaking some dialect or foreign language, man it was the loudest most jarring crap I have ever heard, really motivates you to climb fast! Periodically you get to have a brief rest from the heat and sun in the guard towers, as they are shaded and very cool air hangs in them, although they can tend to smell like public bathrooms =P The wall keeps going, reaching ever higher into the sky, but eventually we met the top, where there is a blockage, and the further section then goes dwon the adjoining hillside.
My little brother
It is at this point I looked down and saw a big monkey chewing on a water bottle dropped off the wall. Seems like he was making a good business collecting peoples' rubbish down there, and aptly bit into the bottle and squeezed out a fresh drink. Cute little guy, but I bet he would bite your arm off if you tried to say hi. After the top there is nothing to do but go down, right? So we made our way down both on the wall and on the side paths. It was on these side paths that I found something quite interesting. I passed a small plant that looked awfully familiar to me. I took a second look and found that it was indeed a little 4 inch tall cannabis plant! I was amazed to see it there not only for the location but also since the land was as parched as a stone, and didn't seem to have any shade.
Nature do what nature want
I then had a thought, that this was at the bottom of the little hill leading to the wall, so there must be some other plants higher up. I was right! There were like 10 or more plants up there, some nice size ones too! Unfortunately I saw no flowers but might be that it is the wrong season for that, either way, it was a sight to behold in a country where drug charges can get you locked away for years and even exectued. This was one of the highlights for sure. We snapped a few more shots and bought a couple postcards off a little old lady who all but acosted us on a side path near the wall. These guerilla capitalists are everywhere in China, and on the wall they sell souveneirs and ice cold water in little coolers, even umbrellas to block the sun.
very peaceful (except for loud ass tourists and invading Mongol hoards)
After our little trailside transaction we went back down and got a much needed respite from the heat in the air and that in our friction worn shoes!