Mutianyu Section – Great Wall of China

Friends in our church branch found out that we hadn’t been to the Great Wall all together. I took the kids with the WAs last June, and B went last August on a school field trip. They were super nice and offered us their van and driver on a day they could do without him. Basically, due to driving restrictions (the husband can’t drive on Mondays and the driver can’t drive on Fridays and has the weekends off) we had to pick a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday for B to call in sick. We also wanted to have nice weather and clean air. We’d decided on Thursday, May 19 when Little Guy threw up that Monday night. Then he threw up more on Tuesday and more on Wednesday. He was mostly recovered, and none of our kids had ever been sick (still puking sick) more than a couple of days so Thursday morning, we decided to go ahead. He carried a bowl (in a grocery bag) on the subway and we rode to their apartment early in the morning to meet their driver (and they loaned us their selfie stick).

We picked the Mutianyu section (less crowded but still close). B had been here before, but the kids and I had gone to Badaling (more crowded, accessible by a surburban train line that hooks up with the subway system). We arrived at the van around 7:30 and arrived at the Great Wall around 9. I miscalculated the cost (and they charged us adult prices for PS and Buddy plus, at Mutianyu we had to payY15 for everyone but Squidgems to ride a tour bus to the cable car area) and we barely had enough money for everything. We’d packed lunches but no water. Luckily we had Y20 left over and B bargained down an overpriced shop owner to get us four waters (still paying double what we’d pay a newstand for water in town). That was a bit stressful. We rode the cable cars up and took the toboggan/slideway down. It turns out the trip down was everyone’s favorite part.

 Figuring out the selfie stick in the van during the drive.

After disembarking the cable car, we headed left (east, I think). There will be a lot of pictures…

There were butterflies and large ants. Squidgems was seriously about to lose it at times due to these bugs freaking him out.

Little Guy had been feeling pukey most of the day (he ended up puking off the Great Wall later in the day) and Squidgems has little legs that get worn out easily, so the two little boys and I hung out in this tower eating snacks while B and the two big kids hiked to a higher up tower.


Sliding down.

We finished about an hour before we had planned to meet the driver. Luckily there are a lot of restaurants that looked like they might take a debit card (Chinese) so B went to Burger King (yes, at the base of the Great Wall) and bought everyone a bottle of water and we ate some more snacks/lunch while we waited.

Luckily the only times that Little Guy really couldn’t have thrown up (the cable car, the slideway sled, our friends’ van, the subway train to and from our friends’ apartment) he was able to hold it together. And now he can say he threw up off the Great Wall… not everyone can say that. 😉

We drove back to town past cherry trees full of fruit, found an ATM, put money on our subway cards and trekked back across town on the subway to our apartment. Overall, a successful day.


B’s Trip to The Great Wall of China


B’s school had a field trip for the western teachers to the Great Wall.

Here’s his version:

My school allowed the teachers to attend a “cultural outing” instead of actually working yesterday. I could choose the Summer Palace or the Great Wall of China. Since we’re close enough to the Summer Palace to go on our own, and my family had already been to the wall without me, I decided to go to the wall.

The section we visited, Mutianyu, is a well-restored section. Part of the restoration was the installation of a cable car that can take you up the mountain in just four minutes.

However, comma, it costs ¥150, and our automatic deposit for August didn’t go through until later that night, so none of us opted for the cable car. Instead, we walked up the steps.

So, so many steps.

Half an hour later, we were on the Great Wall of China.

My wife had only one requirement. I had to take a picture that was actually me at the Great Wall, not just a bunch of pictures of the wall.

I spent a total of about 10 seconds taking around four or five selfies. Remember that for later.

The characters on the mountain translate to, “Be loyal to Chairman Mao.” Seriously.

I came up behind three guys with Trinidad and Tobago credentials hanging from their backpacks. (The IAAF track and field world championships are going on in Beijing right now.) I said, “I’m just going to tell people the four of us are the Trinidad 4 x 100 relay team.” One of the guys said they are actually 3/4 of the 4 x 400 relay team and that they’d won the silver medal the night before. I congratulated them and shook their hands. Later, I realized this story would be more fun if I had a picture with them, but I thought it would be lame to ask for a picture so much later, so I just took a creepy stalker picture of them instead.

Then I took some more pictures of the wall.

The air was actually great (part of the IAAF world championships and the coming military parade); the sky is overcast. It rained the night before and again the night after. So the pictures don’t look that great but hiking wasn’t terrible like it would have been with bad air quality.

After a while, I stopped for lunch. I was with four colleagues at that point, but I spent most of the day alone.

We were there on a very uncrowded day. I came across a scene I wanted to photograph, but I had to wait for a guy taking a selfie to finish up. I thought, “How long could he take, since I’d just seen him take about ten selfies not 30 meters away?” Answer: he can take a long time. I sat in the middle of the wall, waiting for about three minutes, for this guy to take the perfect selfie. Fortunately, no one came along and ruined the shot while he was preening, so it wasn’t a big deal. But still, dude. Three minutes for a selfie?

Most of our group paid ¥80 to take a sort of bobsled down the mountain. They had lots of signs and recorded announcements declaring that you couldn’t take pictures, but all the other tourists were taking a LOT of pictures. A lady with the Trinidadian group held everything up for several minutes. We began to gently chide her, “No photos!” She said in a sort-of-playful-but-underneath-it-all-deadly-serious way, “Who paid for dis phone?!” After she left an Italian lady tried to take a selfie and the Chinese guy running the slide said, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

One of my colleagues was very worried about the safety of the slide. I said, “If this was in America, I’d tell you, ‘If anyone had died they would have shut it down,’ but since this is China, I’ll tell you, ‘If a lot of people died they would have shut it down.'”

Then they shut the slide down temporarily because one of my colleagues fell off his sled. He got a large road rash on his arm.

Eventually, it was my turn.

Girls Camp: a guest post by PS

This is an awesome guest post my an awesome person AKA me AKA P.S. 😉

Girl’s Camp was awesome. The first night mom dropped me off at Annika’s house and then Annika , Paris, Ellie and I had a basically sleepover. It was fun. We woke up sort of early the next morning and then packed the car, ate yummy tater tots for breakfast, and drove for a long time. Then we stopped in Shunyi while the Shunyi girls packed, which was awkward, because we where just standing there being cold while they packed. Then we all got back in the car and drove some more and I almost peed my pants. I can’t believe I just put that up on the internet. Don’t blackmail me. Then we drove to the Huangyaguan pass of the Great Wall and went to our hotel, which was really more of a motel.*


We rented out the whole motel. I shared a room with Ellie, Annika and Paris. Our room had a non-pit** toilet, which I was very thankful for, and a TV, but we never used it.

Our room

Our room (Notice Annika posing, she was the only one who noticed I was taking a picture).


Then we unpacked and went outside for a lunch where everyone brought something to share. My lunch was 25% cookies. Then we did geocaching, and my toes almost froze off, and my group won because we got back first. Then we did fire safety. During fire safety one of the things we decided was that a bad idea was throwing a baby in the fire. Don’t ask. Then we did crafts, and made microwave bean bags, and decorated winter hats, and made T-Shirt scarves. (My scarf was quite cute if I say so myself.) Some of the girls made jewelry to donate somewhere but I tried and I couldn’t get any of the types of string they had to thread through the beads, so I gave up.


Ellie took a picture of me with my hat I decorated.

Ellie took a picture of me with my hat I decorated.

Then we made a fire, went hunting for sticks, bravely passing the angry dog in his weird cage. Some of the girls made like five bean bags but after my first one I went outside and sat by the fire talking with some other girls. Then I accidentally started an Orion Pie roasting craze.*** Next we had dinner, which the leaders made, I think, I’m not quite sure WHAT it was, but it was yummy and warm.


Then we had S’mores, and they turned out to be Paris’s first S’mores (she’s from Australia). Then we sang awesome camp songs, like one about a guy with an Afro.  Then we all went to bed. The rooms had heating, so after we got that working, it was nice.  The girls in my room only stayed up until 9 because we were tired, but the girls in the next room over said they stayed up until 2 AM. The next morning we got woken up my a leader teaching us the hand jive. We were in charge of breakfast, and we made breakfast burritos. My job was to microwave all the tortillas. And something cool happened, when they turned on the gas burner thingy to make bacon, it caught the towel under it on fire, but then they put it out. But it was the only time I’d ever seen something in real life that was not supposed to be on fire, I think. 😛

Ellie and Annika making breakfast.

Ellie and Annika making breakfast.


We ate those, and then we got ready to hike the Great Wall, but first we made a giant poster that said #ShareGoodness. This was our camp theme. Supposedly, one of the leaders sent a picture of it to someone in the Young Women’s presidency. My dad says that it is the kind of stuff that will be in Conference or the New Era church magazine, and that would be SO cool if it was! 😀


Making the poster.  We all signed it.

Making the poster.
We all signed it.

Then we sort of all marched down to the parking lot, holding it to let it dry, which led to lots of Chinese people taking pictures of us. Then we got to the bottom, and took pictures of us with the Great Wall in the background, and the poster, and some random Chinese people took pictures of us doing it, and then came and got in our pictures. It was weird. When the poster was dry, we rolled it up, and I squished in a car with Alice, (the only youth in her Tianjin branch), Paris, Annika, and Ellie. We drove up to the Great Wall, got tickets, took pictures with a statue and the poster, and started hiking.





We got these pictures from one of the leaders and we can’t make them bigger.

image image_1 image_2 image_3



We went up to the closest small room thing on the top, and took a stair case to the top. It was really far down to the bottom. Then we had to go back down, but the stairs were almost straight down steep. I went forward, being super careful, and Ellie came down on her bum.



(This picture is looking up, the blur at the top is Ellie, attempting to come down without dying.)

Then we started hiking. I stayed behind with Ellie. We hiked for a while, stopped and ate a little bit of lunch, and got separated into groups for what year at camp you were. Ellie, and I were with two nice Shunyi girls. We hiked for a LONG time, and then stopped and read the scriptures on the Great Wall, which was very nice, even if a bunch of tourists were walking by us. Then we hiked more. And more. The Great Wall is like 90% steps.

Selfie on the Great Wall!

Selfie on the Great Wall!

The good news though was that even though it was really cold at the bottom, we were all so hot that I didn’t even use my sweatshirt after awhile. Finally, we started to get to the bottom, which was 99.99% steps. Steep steps, but not as steep as the ones in the tower thingy-ma-bob. Hah. I just said Steep steps. 😀 Anyway, then we got to the bottom and Ellie took a picture of me.




We walked home to the motel, and we were one of the first groups to get back, even though we were the last group to finish. Then we made a fire and waited for everyone else. When they got there we started doing a Dutch Oven challenge, which was to make cobbler. The people who rented the motel after us showed up, so we packed up all our stuff and dragged it outside. We did knots, and I can almost tie a square knot the right way. Then we did skits. They where fun, but the people who rented the motel after us recorded us on their phones, and a leader saw them re-watching it later, so my Dad says we’re probably all over Chinese Youtube. Which is bad. I don’t want a video of me doing a weird rain dance to a cow witch (part of our skit) on Youtube. After the skits, we roasted hot dogs, and ate them with and chili and roasted leftover marshmallows. Then we ate the cobbler, which was SO stinking good!



We were running out of time, so we had everyone say what they are thankful for instead of a testimony meeting. The leaders all took like 5 minutes. I said “I’m thankful for everything, but especially the cobbler.” And mine was not the shortest nor the strangest.

Random Picture from at some point. The board from Geocaching and markers where left out a people drew on it. The Chamber of Secrets bit is a long story.

Random Picture from at some point. The board from Geocaching and markers where left out and people drew on it. The Chamber of Secrets bit is a long story.

We packed up, and everyone was confused about which suitcase went in which car, and one of the leaders gave the lady who owned the motel her baby to hold for awhile, and we sang camp songs on the way down, like the one about the guy with an Afro, and then we all got packed up, and hugged each other, and got sad, and then we drove away. I almost puked on the way back because I forgot to take Dramamine on the way out.



We were stopped by a guard and had to show him our passports. We got stopped a second time and did the same thing. I fell asleep for a while, until we dropped off Ellie. We dropped off Paris and her mom, and then Annika’s mom dropped me off in front of the mall right by their house. Dad was waiting for me. We got on the subway, and we each ate half of a yummy pecan pie from Paris Baguette he got in case I hadn’t eaten, I drank some Plus C and we went home. We actually got home before the subway closed. THE END!!!!!!!


*It was a Chinese hotel rather than a western hotel.

**She means a non-squat toilet.

***Orion Pies are sort of like Ding Dongs but more marshmallow-like in the middle.