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.

Then we were required to watch a demonstrator sculpt and polish the gem before we were once again dropped into a gigantic gift shop and told to spend the next half hour shopping around. Jason and I, refusing to be suckers and fall for our guide's ploy to make a few extra bucks off of us, sat down in a chair, where we waited for the half hour to pass. The Spaniards did the same, while the French couple, obviously amateur China tourists, actually browsed through the store and purchased some overpriced goods.

       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.

As I turned the camera on, I panicked when a message appeared that read "memory card error." I grew more anxious as I realized that I could not access any of the 500 photos we had already taken or take any additional photographs. Jason and I messed with the camera and the memory card for the duration of our time at the Ming tombs, barely comprehending the words and descriptions uttered by our tour guide. Luckily, the Ming Tombs weren't all that impressive in the first place.

        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.

Since there wasn't much of anything we could do to solve the problem at the moment, I tried to convince Jason to clear his mind of the problem and not let it ruin the day ahead of us, but that was difficult for Jason to do. After our second gift shop stop, we were directed into a large banquet room where several Chinese dishes were placed in front of us to consume for lunch.

        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.

Pessimistic Jason trudged back to me, complaining that the memory card was 280 RMB and the disposable camera was 180 RMB, and he didn't know what to do because he thought it was all to expensive. Frustrated, I marched over to the lady behind the stand and told her that I would only give her 200 RMB for both the memory card and the disposable camera. I got them both and marched back to Jason, problem solved. After placing the memory card in our camera, it was working properly, and we were good to go.

         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.

We carefully climbed extremely steep sections of the wall, placing all of our weight forward so that we wouldn't stumbe backwards. With unscalable mountains on either side of us, it was easy to see why this spot was chosen for defense and hard to imagine that the Mongolians actually got through.

        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.

Everyone wants to have their photos taken with us!
We entered a restaurant and browsed through the picture menu with English translations in search of anything remotely appetizing. I don't think I can make it on Chinese food much longer because the authentic cuisine is nothing like the Chinese food we order and savor in America. The menu we browsed through contained bull frogs and donkey meat, and on top of that were the strange body parts, like ovaries and ears, to choose from. We ordered the one and only chicken dish on the menu, which came to us cold and containing both dark meat as well as bones and ligaments that I crunched down on. Oh, how I long for my Mexican food from On the Border and my sandwiches from Subway!!

luotai says:
No one wanted pictures with Jason! Funny!
Posted on: May 24, 2012
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