Travelling to Beijing and the Great Wall of China

Today I got up at 7 AM, then rolled my bag down the sidewalk and caught the bus to Century Park. From there, I caught the 747 bus to the airport. After checking in and passing through security, I went to the Air Canada Maple Lounge and had breakfast for free, thanks to the guest pass from Amanda! At the lounge, I had pink grapefruit juice, a fruit cup, key lime Greek yogurt, and a pastry. Then I boarded my flight to Vancouver, which left at 10:15 AM. I arrived in Vancouver at 11:00 AM and met up with my parents there.

The next flight was from Vancouver to Beijing, China on AC029, which we boarded at 12:45 PM. We had to sit on the plane for a very long time though – about two hours – before even going anywhere due to mechanical problems. 🙁 For lunch, I had a muffin, Mediterranean flatbread, and Clamato juice. During the flight I watched How to Train Your Dragon 2, Lucy, and Transformers: Age of Extinction. I also slept for some of the flight (like in the middle of parts of the Transformers movie). Oops! Supper on the plane was bread, stir-fry noodles, coleslaw, and chocolate cake. Breakfast was a bowl of instant noodles. For lunch (again?) was chicken with noodles, fruit salad, and bread. The flight was 11 hours long, but not including the two hour delay, and I landed in Beijing at 6 PM. After clearing customs and getting our bags, we met up with our guide Alice/Din-Din, and went to our hotel. We are staying at the Sunworld Hotel, about 50 minutes from the airport. It was dark already by the time we landed. The hotel looks pleasantly nice, although the room was a bit cramped with three single beds. Mostly, we got settled in the room and went to sleep early.

We woke up early the next morning, around 6 AM. Breakfast started at 6:30 AM, and had a wide variety of items, with both Western and Chinese style foods. The only thing was the hot food wasn’t that hot. I ate bok choy, fried rice, chow mein, spring rolls, steamed buns, ham, potato balls, sausages, and dumpling soup. At 8 AM we headed to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China. On the drive out, the skies were surprisingly clear and blue. This was due to the APEC (Asia Pacific Economics Committee) meeting occurring in the city. There is a ban which permits only half the number of cars on the road each day (three out of six million). Dates with odd numbers allow license plates ending in odd numbers to drive, and likewise for days with even numbers. Also, factories around Beijing have been temporarily shut down. These measures had not been done since the 2008 Beijing Olympics, so we are lucky to travel in low air pollution and traffic conditions.

A clear view today from the wall
A clear view today from the Great Wall

The area around the Mutianyu Great Wall appeared cooler and dry, where trees had mostly lost their leaves, unlike in the city. The weather was quite pleasant for site seeing though.

Panda souvenirs at a stall near the Great Wall Visitor Centre
Panda souvenirs at a stall near the Great Wall Visitor Centre
November fall colours by the Mutianyu Great Wall cable car
November fall colours by the Mutianyu Great Wall cable car

The Great Wall of China is an amazing structure with a total length of around 21 000 km. It was built from the 7th Century BC to the 17th Century AD. The section we are visiting was built in the 6th Century in the Qi Dynasty and then rebuilt in 1569, mainly of granite. We took a cable car up to the wall, and walked along a section of it.

Near the top of the cable cars
Near the top of the cable cars
Walking along the Great Wall
Walking along the Great Wall

It was fun to walk along the wall and go up the watch towers. I went up many stairs, where there is a great view, up to the limit where tourists are allowed.

One of the many watch towers
One of the many watch towers
More watch towers and wall
More watch towers and wall
Wall snaking around and over the mountains
Wall snaking around and over the mountains