All I can say is heck yes, we did a jumping photo on the Great Wall. Was it dangerous? Absolutely. Did a Chinese guy walking down the stairs shake his head and say “that’s dangerous”? Of course he did. Did that stop us from doing it anyway? Nope.
My trip to the Great Wall was set up through the hostel where I was staying. They provide two trip options. The first is a 6km, 3 and a half hour hike along a less restored section of the wall. The second is called the “Fun Section of the Great Wall”, so called because there is a chairlift to the top and a toboggan track down. Guess which one I did?
If you guessed the fun one, you were right. I would like to say that it was all because I had a bad foot whilst in Beijing. This is partially true. I also am not much of a hiker, and didn’t see the appeal in hiking 6km along rather hilly terrain. So i got to toboggan down from the Great Wall instead. Like everything else in Beijing that week, the Great Wall was also fairly busy. Our 70km drive took about two hours. It was a little strange because we never technically left Beijing, but in between the city core and the wall there was a definite shift. It went from behemoth metropolis to rural farmsteads and rivers. There were, what I would call, small towns with little development scattered between all the way to the Wall.
At the Wall itself, the tourist supplied capitalism was in full force. This was the first time in Asia that I felt the pressure to buy, and when the sellers wouldn’t stop with a simple “No”. Our guide took care of the tickets, and then it cost about 12$CDN for the lift and toboggan.
For the two days prior to the trip to the Wall, I’d been hanging out with a group of Aussies and they (along with a German and a Chinese) were my travel partners again this day. At the top of the chair lift we opted to head right, with the end point being a guard tower. If anyone reading this is either going to the Great Wall or thinking going to the Great Wall, I will forewarn you that it is a challenge. Even though we did the ‘easy’ tour, I found my-slightly-out-of-shape-self struggling with it. The stairs quickly change from extremely shallow to incredibly steep (for example, there were a few sections where each step was over a foot tall).
When we got to the Guard Tower that marked the end of the Wall, we sat down to take a little breather. While I was sitting there, a little Chinese boy of about 2 sat down 6 steps lower than me. Then he moved up three, then he sat beside me. He had no idea what to make of me, I tried waving at him, and he just stared. I offered him a puffed rice ball, he took it but kept staring. His parents then wanted a picture of him and I. The end result is a picture of him kissing me on the cheek. The walk back to lift/toboggan area only too about half an hour and seemed much easier.
I finished off the day with more Peking Duck. Solid end to a solid day.