Looks like I didn’t fulfil the target I set for myself, on finishing my travel blogs about Beijing during Chinese New Year. Haha. I know it’s been a long time since I got back from Beijing, but hey, I’ve been busy with work and school! So yup, pardon me!
Since I’m feeling bored now (tried to write my essay for school, but the hot weather is affecting my mood), I thought that I might as well try to finish one more off.
Day 8 (15 Dec)
BB and I managed to book a package the previous day, while we were at the Temple of Heaven, with a local tour group for our trip to the section of the Great Wall called Badaling. The only reason why we decided to book a tour at all, was because it is terribly inconvenient to try to get there on your own – it’s a long coach ride from Beijing, and there is no public transport there; only tour buses. It cost us RMB 150 per person. A pretty reasonable price, we thought, as it covered transport from home to the meeting point, the coach tickets, the entrance fee to the Great Wall, lunch, a trip to the 13 Ming Tombs, some temple in Beijing, and transport back to Beijing.
We had to get up very early in the morning. We had bought some breakfast the previous day, so we packed it all in our bags with some packets of milk, and waited for our transport to pick us up.
It was a minivan, which went to several places to pick up some others, before going to the meeting place at some hotel near the Temple of Heaven. A tour bus was already waiting for us there. We quickly settled our payments at the office of the tour agency, and boarded the bus.
First stop was the Tian’anmen Square – the package included a trip to watch the flag raising, which we already did about a week ago! So we remained on the bus to catch up on our sleep. Hehe. Once that was over and done with, we set off for Badaling.
There was a tour guide on the bus – let me say this once and for all: He is bloody irritating!
This is he.
He just wouldn’t shut up during the entire 2 hour ride, and he also continued to yak for the rest of the trip. Now, I know that it’s his job to talk, but please, for heavens’ sake, say something that makes sense!
He simply went on and on about some non-existent myth about an ancient creature and its powers of blessings if one carried a miniature jade statue of it everywhere, or had a big one placed in the home. Now, why did he carry on and on about this mythical creature? We understood later.
But now, moving on.
During the bus ride, he suddenly told us that we had to pay an extra RMB 100 for a tram ride up the mountains, to the 4th fort of the 8 forts at Badaling. WTH?! How come no one told us about this before we booked the tour, or even before we boarded the bus? It was plain that they meant to cheat us. When asked if it is optional, he said that there is no other way of getting up there because there is no through pass from the first fort to the last. Fine. So we paid up.
We arrived at the entrance to the Great Wall (not as soon as I would have liked), and it was freezing! We did not bring a thermos of hot drink, but I wish we had thought of it! Because a tiny cup of coffee at the shop there cost RMB 30! WTH. That’s equivalent to SGD 6, which is the price of a cup of Caramel Macchiato from Starbucks, when actually it’s just a cup of kopitiam coffee.
We skipped the coffee, obviously.
Here’s the scary tram ride. The rails on which the tram climbed looked really flimsy, and it was like, on stilts. I was really scared, you know. And seriously, who could give me any assurance of its safety? I bet maintenance of the rails were, at best, once a season. Haha. But nothing happened to us, and I am thankful. Haha.
Soon enough, we were climbing the Great Wall! So here’s the barrage of photos, mostly captionless because it makes no sense to caption it. Hur hur.
Hello Kitty! Haha~
Steep slopes are tiring to climb!
The thin air up on the mountains made me short of breath!
We made it to the end of the 8th fort, where there was no through-pass again. Some parts of the wall had actually collapsed and had to be re-built. Badaling’s 8 forts were among the best maintained, apparently, and most popular amongst tourist. But I know that there’s another stretch that is apparently, less touristy and better. But I forgot the name. Haha! Nevermind.
It was really cold up there. We tried to call Justin from the top, because we thought it’d be cool to call someone, Haha, but somehow we couldn’t get through 😦 Afterwards, we walked backwards, and went down the mountain.
I’m on the Top of the World…!
It was a little foggy at some parts, but generally, skies were clear!
After looking at tourists passing by for like, 5 whole minutes, we finally found someone who looked like he might likely know how to use a DSLR and actually have proper aiming. So we got to take our couple photo at the Great Wall! Hehe.
And meee! Can you see me up there? 🙂
A funny pic which I forced BB to take for me. Haha!
The rickety tram ride, on the way down
And we saw black bears! Haha! I don’t know what species they are, but they lived in the mountains in that area, and the people caught them and put them in this enclosure. So sad! But then it wouldn’t be tourist-safe if the bears were roaming around, right?
We spent only about 2.5 hours at the Great Wall. BB and I both felt that it was too short and too rushed. We wondered why they rushed us through, but then we found out. They were rushing us off to the damned jade centre. What’s that, you say?
Basically it’s a place where tour guides bring visitors to buy jade at rip-off prices, of which the tour guide gets a cut of. Apparently it’s common over there. I mean, we don’t have to buy if we don’t want to – that’s all fine and dandy, but what irks me is that we spent 2 hours here, and only 2.5 hours at the Great Wall!
Of course, over here, the jade statues of the aforementioned mythical ancient creatures were abundant in stock. I can’t really remember the prices now, but I know that I wouldn’t pay such those prices for those things. Then again, I wouldn’t even have considered buying any of it at all! Haha!
Photos were not allowed in here, but BB managed to sneakily snap a few.
After this, they still had the cheek to bring us to another place to
get further ripped off buy more things! This time, it was a place selling Chinese snacks. Needless to say, we didn’t buy anything – BB said that we could buy some, but I was too boiling mad and I insisted that we didn’t buy anything simply because I didn’t want those bloody tour guides to get any thing from my purchases. I was already so hungry – imagine that – and they still brought us around to bloody shop!
I nearly keeled over due to extreme hunger, brought about by all that walking in the cold weather. Anyway, after that, we were led to this restaurant – if you could even call it that. Before we entered, the other tour guide (a female) told us that the food was very bad in that place. We don’t have to eat if we don’t want to.
Can you believe it?! I wanted to lash out at her and ask them, “If the food is so bad, why did you bring us here? We paid for lunch!” WTH. We went into the restaurant, and found that they didn’t do ala carte orders, so we had to eat whatever food the tour group was allocated. The food must have been prepared early in the morning and left out in the cold winter air, because by the time it got to us, it was chilled. Yes, we ate cold food, like it came right out from the fridge. The only hot thing was the soup that was served to us. Which tasted really bad too. I ate a bit just to curb the hunger, and BB promised me we would eat our fill at home later.
Our next stop was the 13 Ming Tombs, or rather, just one of them. We stopped by only a while, and there wasn’t much to look at. Years before, when I went with my family, we went to a different part, and it seemed pretty nice. Not so much this time though.
I like this picture 🙂
Grass growing on the roof!
We headed back to Beijing after that, and I was really restless in the bus. I wanted to go home, rest, and have a good and hearty dinner after being so badly starved the entire day. But nope, we had to make one more stop. It was some dubious temple which was, according to the equally dubious tour guide, the temple where the Empress used to pray. It didn’t look like it to me. A smallish temple, with eager staff showing us around presumably to cheat more money out of us, it seemed to me like they only wanted us to purchase something else at the end of the temple tour, probably something that would ‘protect us’ or ‘ward off the evils’ etc. Whatever. We didn’t buy that shit, and we took our leave.
We walked to a nearby bus stop and then took a taxi home! I was never so happy to reach home. Haha.
Some pictures taken at the bus stop.
And of course, when we got home, Pipi was there waiting for us! Yay! Hehe. BB brought her out for her walk (to poo poo) but I didn’t go because I was too tired!
My beloved Pipi
OK! I’ve finished with the Great Wall! Haha. I told BB that I’m not going to climb that monstrosity again any time in the next decade. Hur hur. Very tiring, okay! And also, being angry with the tour guide really sapped all the energy reserves I had!
We had a good time relating all these to his Dad later on. Fun fun fun. I miss talking to his parents! Okay lah, I can’t really talk to them cos 语言不同 but that’s alright, they can talk to me! Hehe!