Once upon a time, there was a tiny little girl who saw this picture of the Long Wall of Ten Thousand Li (or famously known as the Great Wall of China) on her World’s 7 Wonders poster. Her mom hung that poster on her wall. She was 6 at that time and didn’t know what was it. She only knew if that was a long wall in China. Yes, China, she even didn’t know where China was.
Little she imagined that… 19 years after, she was there. On the Great Wall.
It was 11.45PM when my brother asked me which part of the Great Wall we were going to take the day after. My legs were a bit cramped after a day strolling around Beijing (we arrived in the morning that day coming from a sleepless train ride). 4h walking from Tian’anmen Square ’till the north gate of the Forbidden City was really something.
My brain couldn’t think clearly. I kept thinking about joining Juul (Dutch-a CouchSurfer we had dinner with) to take the wild Great Wall route. Unfortunately, the wild Great Wall route took at least 2 days 1 night, yet we didn’t have that much of a time because I wanted to see panda (the main reason why did I submit my paper for this conference in China, haha!). Then, I decided to take a shower while my brother googled about how to get to Mutianyu. Rita (Chinese-also a Couchsurfer we had dinner with) recommended us to go to Badaling part, but Wen (Chinese-a friend’s of my friend) forbid me to go to Badaling. “Awful. Full of people,” she said. She suggested another part with a train ride that was out of our budget.
My brother was up to my decision. He was OK with either Badaling or Mutianyu. But, I wasn’t. With this bit of wild-Great-Wall curiosity, I told my brother, “Let’s go to Mutianyu!”
The recommended transportations to get there were by taking a tour, renting a car, or taking the public bus then renting a black-labelled mini van. Both of us were quite legit with our budget since it was our very few days left in China so we decided to take the cheapest option: public buses. We asked the hostel officer to write down all of our destinations in Mandarin letter (attention! it is a must to do when you are travelling in China).
We went to Dongzhiamen metro station to take bus number 916. One blog mentioned that the 916 bus ride would take us about 60-70 minutes ’till a small town where we would transfer to another bus (bus number 936 or h24). We went out of the metro station when the bus was about to leave. We ran while wavering our hands then thanks God, the bus stopped! We showed our destination written in Mandarin and with the face of so many doubts, the bus driver nodded. Bus 916 costed us 12 Yuan/person.
Thanks to the day-before’s tiredness, both of us fell asleep at the bus. I woke up like 1.5h after!!! SOS. Panic attack. We should have stopped after 60-70′ of bus ride, but it was more than 90′. Yet I was so lazy to stop the bus. My brother also didn’t know where we headed to. After almost 2h of uncertainty, I asked a girl who sat beside me (of course, with my body language skill). She looked for the route thru her Baidu app then she told me where was my bus stop.
We went out of bus 916 in front of a green-coloured building that looked like a conference centre. A swarm of drivers came to us. Yeah, we were the only foreigners and of course, they recognised us as tourists who wanted to go to Mutianyu. With their mediocre English skill, they offered us 40 Yuan for both of us. I didn’t know how much would bus 936 cost us, but sorry Sir, no!
We crossed the street to another bus stop. I saw there was a sign of bus 936. Truthfully, I wasn’t sure if this was the correct direction of bus 936 to Mutianyu. The girl on bus 916 taught me how to pronounce my destination. It sounded like Mu-tii-an-yu-chang-cheng. I said that to everyone at the bus stop and yeah, noone understood. A man approached us telling us to pay 20Yuan for a drive to Mutianyu. I thought this was a great deal because we were hopeless, so I said yes.
We stopped at a tourism office (my eyes caught a sight of a bus stop across this office) where we bought the tickets to get to the Great Wall. We chose to take cable car to go up and slide down with toboggan. The whole tickets costed 156 Yuan/person, including entrance fee and shuttle bus (round trip). This was pricey honestly, but yeah, it is like once in a lifetime experience because next I am planning to hike thru the wild Great Wall route (Ameen!).
Cable car ride was…without any proper safety at all, hahaha. I won’t recommend it to you with a height-phobia. I enjoyed the ride up because the scenery was…marvellous! The Great Wall looked like a snake laying down on a ground. A looooooong snake. I couldn’t see the end of the wall when I was on it. FYI, I googled how long was it and it was around 21k KM in total! This wall was built by several dynasties in many many years and crossed several provinces in China. Of course, it had been functioned as a fortress and for the army’s defence. Now it is one of the world’s heritages listed by UNESCO. Read more about the heritage here.
Some visitors walked thru several guardian posts while we just walked into four posts ahead. We preferred to take a sit in some spots where we could talk and enjoy the scenery. I enjoyed this the most. I felt surreal imagining myself were at the Great Wall. I felt it was just a dream, but when I pinched my cheek, I realised it wasn’t. It was real.
My brother’s most favourite thing at the Great Wall was when it was the time to sledge down with Toboggan. Each toboggan had a handle which functioned as a brake and to increase speed. We were the only visitors coming down with toboggan at that time. Therefore, I played with my adrenaline by pushing my toboggan’s speed into the limit until I got a red flag from an officer who stood nearby the track. I heard my brother screaming so I thought he did the same. YUHUUUU, toboggan was really fun!!! We wanted more. More. More.
Our previous driver was waiting for us when we reached the tourism office. We insisted to take the public bus then he left us. There was only one old lady at the bus stop. Again, with my body language skill, I asked was the bus going to the direction that I wanted. She nodded. After 15′ of waiting, the bus came. We were the only foreigners inside. All passengers (which consisted of villagers) looked at us passionately. With a smile on their face so we smiled back at them. What a heartwarming welcome :”) Psst, the public bus costed 4 Yuan/person.
Once upon a time, there was a tiny woman standing on a brick staircase at the Long Wall of Ten Thousand Li. Her lip formed a wide smile while her eyes were somewhere pointing to what was in front of her. She was staring at how incredibly long the wall was, how stunningly breathtaking the surrounding was, and how astonishing the man-made wall was.
G’night and kisses,