The Great Wall Of China at Jinshanling
A Private Great Wall Tour Because We Are Fancy and Can’t Play Nice With Others
Today was a very exciting day! We had a private tour scheduled to see the Jinshanling section of The Great Wall with Catherine Lu Tours. I specifically researched and chose this portion of the wall because I wanted a crowd-free area. I am normally not a guided tour type of person but because Jinshanling is a 2.5-hour drive from the city it was a huge relief to have the details taken care of by someone else.
We got an early start to the day with a private driver and our guide picking us up from the hotel. We were in a nice car and the driver let me control the music, which was a big plus. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and we learned a lot about China, Beijing and The Great Wall on the way.
The Great Wall Is Incredible
We arrived and parked in a small parking area and then walked about 30 minutes up to the wall. It is so much bigger and taller than I imagined it would be and makes for an impressive approach. We walked along the wall for 2-2.5 hours and saw only a handful of other people. Exactly what we wanted! The coolest part was the beautiful views of the mountains and the wall snaking along for as far as the eye can see. It was also great to see that the air was clearer so far from Beijing, so we could actually see off into the distance.
Not For The Faint Of Heart
The hike along the wall was much harder than we were expecting. It gets incredibly steep at a lot of points and there are A LOT of stairs! We were also at altitude for the first time in months so it is safe to say that we were quite winded. I cannot believe that there is a Great Wall Marathon where people run the section of the wall that we walked! That must be the hardest run of all time! Not only is it steep but the ground is uneven and crumbling in places. This portion of the wall has only been refurbished occasionally so it is falling apart more than popular sections closer to Beijing. I actually like the fact that is was a little more rundown. I felt like we were getting to see the REAL thing instead of the fake façade put on for tourists.
See more about my final thought on The Wall here.
Street Food And A Hot Pot
Back in Beijing we checked out Wanfujing Food Street for a pre-dinner snack! This is the place to go for Chinese street food and other strange things. We tried several things but most importantly we ate scorpions. They are cooked to a crisp so they honestly just taste like any other overcooked meat. The street food was actually pretty disappointing. Usually eating local food, especially random street food, is my favorite part of traveling. Unfortunately in Beijing the street food is incredibly bland. It looks like it is going to be so delicious but then it just tastes like nothing… We actually threw a lot of what we bought out.
Thank goodness we had a reservation at a local hot pot restaurant for dinner! The food here was absolutely delicious! We paid extra for a special “noodle dance”, check out the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ec1saZlIpnk