Today we did the BIG sight: the Great Wall! Again we went local and took a city bus up to a giant gate called Deshengmen. From there it was a challenge to find bus 919 to Badaling, but we finally got it. Frustrating, however, was the immense dishonesty we encountered. One man was dressed as a bus employee and told us the bus would cost Y80 each per direction, so it would be cheaper to take his taxi for Y400. We knew this was a lie since our hostel told us the bus would be Y12. He was not the only one, either, as numerous people tried to scam us into taking their cab. When we finally found the bus, there were different 919’s. Our hostel had written out, in Chinese, for us our destination: Badaling Great Wall. Unfortunately we still felt a bit scammed as the bus was cheap but they insisted we need a ticket on a “cable car” which ended up being a little sit-car ride up the wall. They said it was the “Only” entrance available which was a lie.
Zoe enjoyed it, though, and we rode the little car rides up to the wall. We ended up coming up a side-entrance, though, and missed out on the museum and movie that may have been interesting. It was fun and we still go our Great Wall experience for pretty cheap, and, in fact, we may have wanted to pay and ride the actual cable car up which would’ve been the same price for just one way. The frustration was just that we didn’t seem to be given all the info nor any direction as to where we actually were.
We enjoyed hiking up the wall, but got hungry and went to the ‘cafe’. It turned out to be just an overpriced snack stand and restroom where we got a box of moon pies (orion cakes) and 2 red bulls. Nothing like eating lunch surrounded by the smell of piss and cigarettes. Anyway, Zoe rode in the kid carrier and fell asleep for most of our hike. When she woke she really like playing on the rocks and digging in the dirt as usual. She loved the little car ride down and also thought the sun bears at the bottom were neat. It was really random, but there were sun bears in small enclosures at the entrance we used.
Beijing is so different from the rest of China. It feels more organized and structured, yet we’ve encountered way more people trying to rip us off than anywhere else in the country. It’s like it’s super-communist at the crust, but a capitalist mindset at the core. weird. At one point Bryan got so tired of people trying to sell him junk or get him into a cab that he threatened to punch the next guy…sure enough the next guy came, but he just laughed and yelled “knee-how” back at his incessant “hello”. Regardless, we had an uneventful return bus ride and visited the local department-mart for some snacks, diapers, and food. We then spotted a Papa Johns and gorged on an American style pizza; it was great after no lunch and crackers for breakfast.
This evening we are just going to take a bit of a walk around our Hutong. We are staying at a hostel that is in a Chinese neighborhood area in a traditionally feng-shui oriented courtyard home in a hutong-alley. It’s nice and quiet. There is a bunny, some birds, a couple dogs, and a tiny kitten that Zoe enjoys playing with. The place is nearly empty, so the workers are very helpful and super nice. We had them do our laundry yesterday for $3. We slept well last night since it was quiet, though the place (Lotus Hostel) isn’t the cleanest place we’ve been.