We’d been planning to take the train (there’s a suburban line that goes to one section) to the Great Wall with the Ws for a few weeks but were waiting for a clean air day. Finally it came.
We met at Xizhimen station (line 2) which is also Beijing North railway station. There we planned to take a late morning, suburban (S2) train to the Badaling (and here) section of the Great Wall. Unfortunately, tickets were sold out and there wasn’t another train with available tickets for a few hours. There were women trying to talk tourists into hiring a van. With our friend’s Chinese skills, and with all our refusals, we were able to score a really inexpensive ride to Badaling and back for all ten of us. The Badaling section of the Great Wall is closest to Beijing, it’s mostly north and a little bit west of us. If we were to drive it from our apartment building, Google Maps says it would take 1 hour and 20 minutes.
Our van was a driver, and my friend in the front. Then a make shift row behind the drivers seat full of three Chinese tourists. Then another row of three Chinese tourists. Then some of the kids and me and then another, back row full of the rest of the kids. The ride there wasn’t so bad. The ride home… we hit traffic in Beijing and it took forever. From the Great Wall back to Xizhimen station took maybe three hours.
|Princess Sparkley’s head is somewhere behind Little Guy’s. This is the least blurry of the selfie I took of the kids and I in the back of the van.|
In trying to find the entrance, we ended up at the cable car station. We decided to ride the cable cars up and then decided we should probably splurge and buy the roundtrip tickets for a few extra dollars rather than get up there and then being too tired to come back down. Or not be able to find our way back to the same start location, which would mean not being able to find our way back to our driver. It ended up being totally worth it. 20 yuan admittance to the Great Wall per big kid, 40 for me. 100 yuan per big kid and me for round trip cable car (or, as Squirt called it, choo choo train). 500 yuan total, just under $85 USD.
It was a beautiful day. When we first came out of the cable car station, we climbed up, then down. It was very crowded. Then, not wanting to go too far one direction, we back tracked and when back near the station (we bought ice cold water) and went the other direction, down then up then down, etc. It was way less crowded. I took a ton of pictures. Some might just be repeats but every time I saw a view I thought, “Oh, that’s prettier than the last one.”
As always, we were quite the attraction as well. I don’t mind when people take quick pictures or when they ask and are nice about it… and are speedy. I do mind when they gather all their friends and take dozens of pictures trying to get the perfect shot. I had to drag Princess Sparkley and one of our friends away from a lady doing a photo shoot with them who would grab their arm to keep them there for more pictures when they tried to leave. The kids decided two things, we need a #hashtag campaign t-shirt for Squirt so we can see how famous he is on Weibo (the Chinese version of Twitter), and they need tshirts telling how much they charge for pictures. At one point, a man from a tour group of older Chinese people stopped me for a picture. Then the entire tour group pulled out their own cameras and it was like the paparazzi. I stuck around for a minute and then just walked away.
Parts of the Great Wall were really steep slopes with a railing to hold on to so you could drag yourself up, or keep yourself from sliding all the way down. There were also steps. Lots of steps.
Squirt was a trooper. And the W kids (their two oldest especially) love to carry him around (more than my own kids do). This is the trip that inspired me to come home and research baby carrying backpacks for toddlers.
Squirt was a trooper. He climbed up and down a lot of it on his own and made great “umph” noises with each step.
A photo op camel in the parking lot.