great wall

The Great Wall of China: Jinshanling

Hopped on a bus at 6:30am that too me to the Great Wall of China with a tour group. Initially I had no intention of being that kind of tourist, but after I saw how difficult it would be to get there, I caved in. It worked out quite well though. Everyone was sleeping on the 2.5 hour bus ride there so things were pretty relaxed. 

Once we arrived, I had several options: the short route which consisted of a gondola ride, a medium route by walking, and a long route also by walking. I took the long route because I wanted to see as much as possible and fly my drone around cool areas. I didn't want to miss any cool opportunity. As it turns out, I wish I had taken the gondola. 

So there are many different places you can go on the Great Wall. Badaling is the closest to Beijing, but it is also highly populated with tourists. Jinshanling Is farther away so it has less tourists but is a bit more difficult. After reading that I thought, "ok I'm willing to have a bit more physical activity for less people." The hike was not as easy as they said. Skinny stone steps usually over a foot high were quite prevalent. I felt like no matter how much water I drank, I sweated more. While hiking the wall with 4 cameras was hard, I can't imagine having to fight a battle there.

 

Unbelievable is an accurate description of the Great Wall of China. It astounded me that people managed to build something that big, so long ago. The first wall was started around 200 BC. The towers sit on the tops of mountain ranges almost like something in Lord of the Rings. 

I flew my drone around and got some amazing video that I'll be putting together when I get back to LA. While I have 2 batteries, I only used 1 battery due to the intense hiking, high winds, and some scattered showers. Regardless, I know I definitely got some amazing footage. 

Did some editing when I got back to my hostel, then I went back to 159 because I needed to have that chicken back in my life. I broke one of my rules of eating the same food more than once but it was worth it. Instead of the tentacles from the depths of hell, I had sautéed green beans which were quite flavorful and cooked to perfection. I spent the rest of the night with Marcin and Diana catching up on what we each did that day and having other fascinating conversations. Definitely a relaxing way to finish my time in Beijing. Also, I'm not posting too many pics of the Great Wall right now because I really want to dedicate a lot of time into the edits. What I have in my head is so beautiful and I just can't complete it here in China. 

China Adventures: Part 3

While I was originally going to go to the Great Wall of China, I decided I'd rather get my bearings in Beijing first. I became friends with two Polish travelers, Marcin and Diana, at my hostel and we both happened to be going to the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square! We ventured out together but we got separated at the gate to the Forbidden City. Oddly enough, I ran into the students from Alabama inside and we hung out for a bit. They had a tour guide so I tagged along with them and learned some fascinating information about the Forbidden City. 

Love these shadows on the wall. Photographing guards is definitely frowned upon.

Being an abnormally tall, white, American, people asked to take pictures with me. Not sure why, but it's kinda cool? One girl walked up and said, "Hi I was wondering if you could take a photo with me. You are very handsome." Well I guess that solves it!

I really wanted to fly my drone around the Forbidden City but I had too many worries about it. I have no idea how the guards would react. Would they not think twice about it or whip out their guns and shoot it down? Also, with the buildings, walls, and trees, I didn't want to navigate flying around those obstacles. I had an unfortunate drone crash last week that cracked a bunch of the plastic. It still flies, but is harder to control and is less precise with the movements. All of this felt too risky. If I crash it now, I wouldn't be able to use it at the Great Wall or the Yellow Mountains, which seems like a better opportunity. Probably not the smartest idea to experiment in a place called the Forbidden City. 

Tim and Jenneh

Left the Forbidden City with no sign of my Polish homies, Marcin and Diana. Ran into another group of Americans from Virginia who just finished a trip similar to mine! Instantly became friends. I had nothing to do so we hung out and they took me to lunch at a hot pot place nearby. Tim and Jenneh hung out with me the most as we ordered way to much food. We shared stories, laughed and had a splendid time. Tim told me how awesome the matcha chocolate McFlurrys are at McDonalds here so I got one after we went our separate ways. He was right. Absolutely delicious.

I just finished my McFlurry and sat down to write about my fun experiences when a group of kids came up to me and started showing me their small pocket watches. They really liked my KO Watch and tried to set their times to match mine. One little boy was fascinated by my camera, constantly making weird silly faces and giggling at the pictures. His mom came up and told the group to all play their harmonicas. They puffed as hard as they could into those little things and it was the most beautiful noise. 

Found live scorpions on sticks getting ready to be cooked. A vendor wanted 25 yuan for 3. After watching them wiggle and dance after being impaled, I lost my curiosity. Also Tim said he had one the night before and it hurt his stomach. 

Wandered around Tiananmen Square which happened to be a big empty plaza with nothing to see. All of the surrounding museums and buildings were closed so I just headed home. The rest of the night was pretty chill. Mostly hung out at the hostel and edited a bunch of photos. Nothing special to end the awesome day!