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Day Eight: Beijing Wall Redux

Posted on Friday, September 30th, 2005

Dave!Yesterday I told my driver not to bother picking me up until 7:30, since nothing really opens until 8:00am. So I awake at 7:00 and look out the window only to see yet another dreary, gray-sky morning with mist limiting the visibility in all directions. Just another depressing day of poor weather in Beijing! Oh well, at least it won't be raining for my trips to the Forbidden City and Temple of Heaven.

With the conditions so dreadful, I'm in no hurry to head out into the crowded streets of Beijing, and drop down to the lobby at 7:25am to find my driver waiting for me...

Driver: "I have something to tell you."

Dave: "Uhhh... okay."

Driver: "The Great Wall is very important to you?"

Dave: "Yes."

Driver: "Most important to you maybe?"

Dave: "Errr... yes?"

Driver: "I think so. This morning I call Mutianyu and they say no rain. No clouds. Is clear."

Dave (trying desperately to not let my disbelief show): Really?

Driver: Yes. In city weather is bad. But in mountains it is good. No rain. No clouds. Not foggy... is clear. I call for you.

Dave (my interest piqued): So it is sunny and clear skies in Mutianyu?

Driver: Yes. I can take you back again.

Dave (with nothing to lose): Okay. Let's go.

And the entire way to Mutianyu I look out my window to see nothing but fog and mist... the likelihood of there being clear blue skies seems laughable, and I begin to wonder what the scam is. But then we round a corner, and all of a sudden the weather is drastically improved. We approach The Great Wall, and this time I can actually see it.

Now THIS is what I am talking about...

The Great Wall

The Great Wall

The Great Wall

Yes. Needless to say, my driver is getting a big-ass tip.

UPDATE: I went to the "Mutianyu" section of the wall, because I was told it was less crowded with better views. The more common tourist spot is the "Badaling" section, because it is closer with easier access and closer to the Ming Tombs. There was a photo of the Badaling Wall in the China Daily that made me glad for my choice...

Badaling Crowd

Yikes. Compared to this, Mutianyu was positively deserted.

Categories: Travel 2005Click To It: Permalink


  1. The Ref, LGC, England says:

    WOW, looking at those photos I am 100% jealous now.

    The Great Wall is amazing. Probably something I will never see.

  2. Anthony says:

    Wow, your driver is a legend. Great pics

  3. Troy says:

    That is amazing. I’d love to go to China just for that. Amazing.

  4. girlonaglide says:

    I’m happy for you Dave! Looked like a glorious day to be in the sun, towering towards the sky. Very impressive… I can only imagine what it felt like to be there.

  5. Marc says:

    Great to see that you had a much better experience at your second attempt. The wall is indeed more impressive when you can see the horizon… 😉

    Actually, the Badaling section was pretty much like the one shown in your own photos (i.e. not the b&w one) when I was there in March 2002.

    I only wish I had bought more shirts at the Beijing HRC. Mine is getting slightly bleached after these years.

  6. SJ says:

    Wow. Wow. Just … WOW.

    Lucky, lucky guy.

  7. Dave2 says:

    Truthfully, the only reason I came to Beijing was for this view. Everything else is just gravy. To have actually gotten to see it after such a disappointing first visit is nothing short of miraculous. I’ve been dreaming about this for as long as I can remember, and here it is.

    As we were leaving, the fog started to roll in and the clouds were starting to gather. How on earth we managed to get there at just the perfect time, I can’t say. My driver says it is because God likes me. I did not presume to debate him.

  8. SJ says:

    If aliens are reading MY blog, I see no reason why God may not be reading YOURS. I always find Blogography to be divinely entertaining, and I’m sure He does, too.

  9. Dave2 says:

    “Divine entertainment?” That’s a good one! I think I am going to have to start using reader quotes in my header!

  10. apryl says:

    absolutely astounding! thanx for letting us “stand” with you while you made history.

    (loved the foggy pics of the wall as well…very mystical)

  11. karla says:

    Amazing. I can imagine how you felt. That anticipation of seeing something you’ve wanted to see your whole life, then to see it live and it’s even better than you imagines? Awesome. I’ve gotten teary eyed a few times when that happens.

    The crowded part of the wall reminds me of the Charles Bridge in Prague. Same thing. Urg.

  12. your uncle says:

    you’re truely blessed to be able to travel the world. Enjoyed your pictures and enjoy your dialoge.

    Hope you are well


  13. Brent says:

    The second and third photos are incredibly well captured, Dave. Really great work.

  14. ginger says:

    i have actually been to that part of the wall. Our driver took us there as well because of the tourists at badaling. I wasnt as lucky to get to go on a clear day though. the fog kind of adds to the mystery though so it was still worth it!

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