Cliché tourist stuff ahead! You can’t do a longer trip through China without visiting at least some of the standard attractions. And the Great Wall is definitely one of them. (Not the Great Firewall, even though I’ve had a few battles on that one in the past weeks.)
You know you’ve come to a touristy segment of the Great Wall when there’s a long slide all the way from the top down to the valley. We walked a few kilometers on the wall, which was very exhausting for a few reasons:
- It’s crowded, and the many towers are a tourist hoard bottleneck.
- The stairs drive you nuts: Every four to six steps there’s a higher step. It’s just random enough to keep you from finding a rhythm, and you constantly have to pay attention to your steps. The wall clearly hasn’t been built with smartphone users in mind.
- It’s hot!
- Flip Flops are not made for hiking after all.
When we stopped at a point where they were selling drinks, snacks and ice-cream, we wondered what flavor the ice-cream was. Asking the iceman (“icewoman”?) just that, she replied: “Sugar!! Water!!” – “Excellent, I really appreciate your directness. I’ll take two.” It was good, but I think I’ll go back to matcha, soybean, green peas and kidney bean flavored ice-cream.
Great Wall: check – been there, done that. Sarcasm aside, it’s been great seeing it.
The next day we went to see the Forbidden City. Hearing some crazy stories about the last emperors and their… posh lifestyle… made the place really come to life. An average of 300 concubines at hand, a steady flow of new ones coming in because they were often poisoning each other to get the upper hand, having absolute power over everything that happens in a country of that size… this stuff can easily get over your head. Which it did, obviously.
The area of the Forbidden City is enormous, and the style of all the buildings in it is consistent throughout the whole complex. The only annoying thing – the tourist crowds again. It’s just too full of people here, even after they began limiting the number of tickets to 80.000 a day. This was a reaction to a few years ago when they had 180.000 visitors in one day.
Forbidden City: check. Again: Definitely worth seeing!