The first lady, Michelle Obama, recently visited the Great Wall of China. It just so happened that our tour took us to the exact same spot a few weeks later! As our bus approached the mountains and we saw the wall come into view, my heart started racing. The wall was top of my “China Bucket List” and here we were on day one!
Unfortunately, we were there on a somewhat hazy (smoggy?) day, but it still took your breath away to see it in person. We took a cable car up to the top of the Mutianyu section of the wall. It’s a little less touristy than some of the sections closer to Beijing. And it was definitely worth the drive, we had it basically to ourselves!
Here’s a map of the section we visited. The cable car puts you up at tower 14. We walked all the way to tower 22 (almost all the way to the left on the map) and then back. Just that alone took almost 2.5 hours!
Lots of stairs. LOTS of them! Up and down, up and down! (Can you believe that crazy people actually run a marathon on the Great Wall? I’ve decided those people are nuts. Just walking a mile or so of it and my calves were burning for days after!)
This section of the wall has been redone a bit, but as Michelle Obama pointed out, you can stand on it and feel the significance of it and the labor it must have taken to build over time. The whole time we walked, Irving and I kept saying “Someday, we’ll look back and say that we climbed the Great Wall of China… but here we are, in this moment right now, doing it.” We tried to soak it in as best we could.
See the top of that hill in the picture below? That was our goal and we did it! That last huge hill of stairs nearly killed me, but we made it! And then Irving went a few flights even beyond that!
As I mentioned earlier, our first day of China started with a Jade Factory tour, Ming Tombs, Cloissone factory, lunch and the Great Wall… but that’s not all! We ended this epic day with an elegant Peking Duck dinner!
Apparently, in order to be called “Peking Duck”, the duck has to live, die and be eaten in Beijing. So when in Rome, right? I did have one small taste of the duck, but I mostly enjoyed the other dishes that are served alongside it. It was all delicious! Lots of vegetables, rice and thin pancakes.
Some notes about Peking Duck:
-The ducks used for this special recipe live for exactly 65 days
-The meat is rolled with scallion, cucumber and sweet bean sauce inside a thin pancake.
-The restaurant that we ate in had been serving Peking Duck since the 1400’s
-The duck must be cut by the chef into exactly 120 equal pieces
Even without gouging on the duck itself, we still left feeling like lucky Royal Emperors at the end of the meal.