The Great Wall and the Great Camera Disaster
Beijing Travel Blog› entry 21 of 22 › view all entries
This morning we were looking forward to walking upon the Great Wall of China later in the day. On the previous day, we inquired about a way to get to China's most famous landmark on our own, hoping to bypass the unwanted stops of a group tour, but after being convinced that it would be too much of a headache, we agreed to join the hostel's tour. At 8 a.m., we hopped into a van, along with an older couple from France, two younger males from Spain, and our Chinese tour guide, Benny. As we expected, we weren't headed straight to the Great Wall and back. That would be too easy. Instead, our bus rolled up to a jade factory, where we listened to a worker explain and show us several varieties of jade.
Our next stop was the Ming Tombs, the resting place of thirteen of the sixteen Ming Emperors, which supposedly has a very auspicious (a word the Chinese love to use) feng shui. As we walked through the gated entrance that leads to the courtyards, I pulled out my camera from my messenger bag, preparing to capture any interesting images or scenery.
Our bus carried us on to our third stop, another jade factory, as Jason and I sat in disbelief that not only did we not have a functioning camera for our Great Wall adventure, but we may have lost the pictures chronicling our entire honeymoon.
After eating as much of the food as I found tolerable, we finally departed to the Badaling section of the Great Wall. As we approached the formidable structure, we were in awe of the breathtaking view of the ancient wall winding its way over the tall, undulating hilltops. At the base of the hill were a few small shops that Jason went to explore in hopes of finding a new memory card or disposable camera.
At the bottom of the hill we walked past enclosures of black "Great Wall" bears and took rickety cable cars to the hilltop, where we took our first steps onto the Great Wall of China. Our tour guide gave us two hours to walk the wall, so Jason and I headed towards the highest point.
As we climbed to the top, three groups of people asked for photos with me, and Jason was repeatedly told how beautiful his wife was. I think that Jason was beginning to feel insulted that no one wanted pictures with him! We encouraged a scene where a Chinese woman politely asked a black man from America to take a photo with his three young children. He obliged and the photo was taken. As they were walking off, we overheard one of the young girls ask her father in such a curious voice, "Why does everyone always want to take a picture with us?" He replied, "Because you're so gorgeous.
We made it to the high point of the wall and turned around to make the climb back, taking photos of the gorgeous scenery all along the way. Once our two hours were up, we all grabbed cold bottles of water and piled back into the van, expecting a ride back to our hostel. That would have been too easy. Instead, we were unloaded at a silk factory, where we once again had to listen to a presentation, this time about silk worms. Next came a demonstration of quilt making, and then, of course, we were told to shop in the gigantic silk shop for half an hour. This time around, we all sat down and waited for the thirty minutes to pass by.
We finally made it back to the hostel at around 5:30, and at 7:00, Jason and I headed down the street to a nearby restaurant row for dinner.