Continued from Beijing Day 3.
Our car arrives right on time(actually arrived early) to take us to the Mutianyu Great Wall this morning.
This is easily our most expensive car hire, but it is also easily our nicest ride. Our driver was super nice, car also super clean and comfortable. He also drove very smoothly, nothing to complain about.
Our driver told us a little about how when he was growing up in Beijing, there was never enough to eat, never enough meat to eat. Now, there’s plenty of meat for everyone to eat. True story. China is now a country that’s starting to get fat. Easily the fattest Asian country that we’ve visited.
There is such a terrible traffic problem in Beijing that they’ve actually stopped issuing license plates to everyone who wants to buy a car. All newer plates are issued by a lottery system. Not only that, but depending on your license plate number, there is a certain day of the week that you are not allowed to use the car in the city, and that day of the week moves to the next day every 3 months.
The traffic is only a little bad today though.
Beijing is a much nicer city than Xi’an, that nasty ugly place. Ugh.
This being Beijing, we run into traffic at some point. The inbound lanes have a lot less traffic than the outbound lanes that we are on. Everyone is heading out of town for the holiday this weekend.
Did not expect to see a London style cab here.
Looks like a face.
Along the highway, we see cars parked on the shoulders with people just waiting around. Our driver said that these are the people waiting for their friends and families to meet up so that they can all caravan to wherever they are headed to. There are no parking lots and no neighborhood streets for cars to meet up together inside Beijing, so everyone meets up on the shoulder of highways outside of town.
A pretty dangerous place to meet up if you ask me. Not only do you have the regular highway traffic to watch out for, you also have all the many assholes that drive on the shoulder to bypass the slower highway traffic jam. This is just an accident waiting to happen.
Finally out towards the countryside.
And there are tons of people here today. Our driver had to park the car pretty far away. With the shitty traffic, it took us about 2.5 hours to get out here.
If you look carefully, you can see the Great Wall at the top of the mountain.
We must be getting really close now, there are now souvenir shops everywhere. Look at the English on that red sign.
Here we go.
Weeeee!!! We plan on taking the cable lift up and the toboggan down.
Here you can see the Great Wall clearly.
Reached the top. Too bad it’s kind of hazy today. But hey, at least it’s not raining!
The wall just stretches on forever across the mountain tops.
Once we got on the wall, there aren’t actually that many tourists up here. This whole area of the wall has been restored, and that’s why it’s so nice and orderly.
You can see the wall stretching across the mountains here.
Our target hike. We plan on hiking to that tower on that next mountain. It’s quite hot out here today, and it’s about midday as well so the sun is really beating down on us.
Not as easy as it looks actually. Feel the burn!
Let me catch my breathe.
Now for the uphill portion.
Looking back towards the direction that we came from.
OK, up up up.
Stop staring at my butt.
This is why it’s not so easy. Portions of the wall is actually very very steep. You can see the level of incline in this photo. Not sure how soldiers were able to fight on these walls. It’s tough enough just hiking up and down these walls. Maybe their trick is to get the enemies to climb the walls, so they tire themselves out to death.
RL gets tired and needs to rest…
May not look it from this photo, but this section was especially steep.
Yet still more climbing.
A long haul, but almost there.
Reached the top!!!!
Beyond this window, there’s a do not enter sign…Hmmm…
Don’t mind if we do.
Now we are hiking on the unrestored sections of the wall. Neat.
Many before us have already hiked here and blazed a path through the vegetation.
One of the crumbling watch towers.
And the wall continues and continues. We saw hikers at that far away watch tower.
It feels good to break some rules.
OK, that was fun, time to head back.
Now, for our long hike down…
Doesn’t seem too bad from here. All we’ve got to do is make our way down, then back up again.
Now the fun part after the hike.
Ohhh, can’t wait.
Well, apparently I can wait. There’s a line.
Go go go!!!
Me tugging on my stick. I look so happy.
Well, that was fun, but could have been a lot more fun. We were, unfortunately, held up by a man ahead of us who went very slowly. Sigh. It is what it is.
Starving. Time for some lunch. I guess Subway it is.
Their menu here is actually very close to their menu in the US.
It does the job of filling the stomach, and nothing more. I don’t understand why Subway is popular in America.
Jeremy Lin is Taiwanese…China, stop trying to claim him as your own.
Back to our car and time to head back to our hotel. The hike on the Great Wall took a bit more time and effort than we had expected. We both fell asleep on the ride back.
When we woke up, we were in Beijing. Look, Bird’s Nest for the 2008 Olympics.
Our driver said that this was some sort of gate that armies used to march through for battles to the North.
Back to our hotel, and it’s time to pick up our laundry. Ugh. So expensive.
This is what $81 dollars worth of laundry looks like. At least everything is very neatly wrapped and accounted for…Still, what a rip off.
I had called and made a dinner reservation yesterday for today. So after cleaning up in our hotel room, off we go to dinner.
You can see the extensive subway map of Beijing. It’s actually a quite useful system, but this city is just so big. Everything takes forever to get to.
Reached Sanlitun. Doesn’t seem like it from here, but this is quite the happening spot here in Beijing.
Da Dong Duck. Gotta eat Peking Duck while in Beijing, and this place came highly recommended from both traveler reviews and the swing dancers in Beijing. They are more modern and contemporary than some of the old school Peking Duck restaurants in Beijing.
There is already a wait. Good thing I called and made a reservation.
I guess they don’t have a shortage of awards and accolades.
Induction stove top built right into our tables.
They have the biggest tome of a menu I have ever encountered. Pictures for everything, and everything looks delicious.
Yup, the menu is 139 pages long. Puts Cheesecake Factory to shame.
You know you are eating duck here.
The sauces and fixings for the duck.
A whole roast duck is sliced up.
Yup, there’s an entire duck’s worth of meat on our table.
So how does it taste? Well, I can tell you that it’s unlike any other duck I’ve ever had in my life. Da Dong specializes in super lean ducks, which breaks from the traditional fatty ducks. The skin is soft crispy, kind of like a wafer. The meat melts in your mouth. Fucking delicious. I can see why this is the place to eat Peking Duck on everyone’s list.
This is a bona fide high end restaurant, and we paid for it as well. I think we paid around $90 for the both of us, and it was well worth the experience.
Now, heading deeper into Sanlitun, we are looking to get our drink on tonight.
Found the lively spots.
People here are definitely more “hip” than other parts of Beijing.
And soon, found what we are looking for, bar street. This is the bar area that the bar manager at the Houhai restaurant told me about a few days back. This is also the first sex shop that we’ve seen in China.
Don’t think this area will disappoint.
Pure Girl Bar, with a photo of Taylor Swift. If only she was innocent and not the man eater that she is.
This seems like a good place to start the night. There are a lot of expats in this area.
We thought that was another room, then we realized that it was one giant mirror.
Watching the French Open on TV.
For the first time in over a month, RL is finally able to get her hands on some cider. Ciders are not too popular here in Asia. The drink prices here are relatively reasonable, about US prices.
Nadal, the king of clay. He won his match, of course.
We sat at a large table, and soon two Germans, an American and a Canadian joined our table. We started chatting with them. The two Germans both work for BMW for their electric car department. They both live here in China where BMW has an assembly plant. I’m sorry to report, but they were both really really really boring to talk to. Germans are pretty serious people to start with, but these two were engineering nerds as well. One guy was hopelessly in love with some Chinese girl who he met in Germany, but had ended up marrying another German guy who was now his colleague. It’s a sad story I guess.
The unrequited love German guy also said that I must be a hero to all the Asian men here because I married a white girl. Did you hear that? KL, hero to all Asian men.
The American guy is the boss of the Canadian guy. The American is here in China to check up on his underling, the Canadian guy. The Canadian guy lives in Bangkok and has a Thai wife there. I know what you are thinking, and yes I suspect it to be all true as well. The Canadian guy and the American were both sleazes. Both are married, and both were hitting on girls at the bar. Sigh.
Then all of a sudden, the power goes out and the emergency lights come on.
Fun with the camera while the power is out.
I guess they are used to power outages here, because the wait staff didn’t miss a beat. They very quickly brought out candles and kept on serving food and drinks like nothing had happened.
Ah, that’s why the power had gone out. While in the bar, a giant storm had blown in and it’s now pouring rain outside. I guess we’ll be staying here for a while longer.
3 hours of drinking later, we were a little drunk and tired. We got our drink on, too bad our tablemates left much to be desired. Oh well, you win some, you lose some. Still fun to go out drinking.
Due to the rain, we had spent the whole time in the first bar we went in, and when we left, it was still raining slightly.
Once we had left, it started to dawn on us that we may have trouble getting back home tonight. The subway stops at 11:30 and it’s almost close to 11. It sounds like we have a lot of time, but we need to make 2 different connections and it took us about 30 minutes to get here earlier from our hotel. With the rain, it’ll also be impossible to hail down a cab. Shit shit shit….stress.
We ran into the station, and the ticket booth girl said that if we really hurry down the stairs, we can catch the last train of the night at 11:04pm. WHAT? I thought that the system stops at 11:30. WTF?
We made our first train and first connection. The second line that we connected to did have a later closing time at 11:30pm. Odd that some lines close earlier than others.
Not too many people this late at night.
Yeah, yellow flip flops and let me pull my shirt up and expose my belly.
Got off the second train and ran across the station to connect to our last train. Ugh, why are the transfer stations so big and far apart!!! It’s almost 11:30!!!!
Eeekkkk!!! Just made it!!! We made it right in time for the last train for the night!!! That was too close for comfort.
We could have potentially waited for hours in the rain hopelessly trying to hail down a taxi. And in the lucky chance that we found an unoccupied taxi, the driver would probably try to rip us off. But, none of that happened, and now we are happily back to our hotel and passing out.
To be continued at Beijing Day 5 & Huangshan Day 1.