Alright, so the wall is not in any way easy. It is probably the hardest hike I have ever done in my life. I can't think of anything more physically demanding except maybe swimming under the water for long periods of time handling langosta. Anyway, it's unbelievably hard.
The millions of tourists and castle-shaped trashcans made this part of the wall feel like Disney, so we decided to walk until there were no people and sleep on the wall if the sun set before we reached a town. Ross and I planned to walk to a completely different part of the wall called JinShanLing (金山岭), but realized one hour into the hike that we were walking the wrong way. hah! So, we started back- my god, is it easier to go down those steps (except for the heightened possibility that you might tumble to your death)! So, we took around 30 minutes to get back to where we started. On the way down we saw a path to a tiny village between the mountains which we decided to visit. We crossed the scary bridge of death after handing over some money to a guy tending the bridge who gave us pretty tickets, which were never checked.
When we reached the path, there was a sign saying 'dangerous, no crossing', but after explaining to a guard that we wanted to maybe sleep in that nearby village he told us to go ahead. The hike was incredibly fun, better than the great wall. We were walking through what seemed to once be a stream... finally we reached an old village where we met an old woman which reminded Ross of his Grandma. After asking her if we could stay at her house, she laughed at us and said there was no food and walked us to a neighboring tiny village of sorts where we met another old woman who told us she had too many people staying at her house. The first older woman kept telling the second woman to charge us 100kuai (to rip us off)... we told them it was way too expensive and then starred at them awkwardly for a while before saying thank you and leaving.
We kept walking down that path and quickly realized that the path was following the great wall. The path finally met up with the great wall, this part very far from the first part of the wall we were on. We had reached 金山岭... it is the most incredibly beautiful thing... In this part of the wall there are hardly any people and few castle shaped trashcans. We saw three guys walking in the opposite way and then a couple about an hour later. Most of 金山岭is not restored and so makes the walk somewhat dangerous, which makes the experience better for some reason.It felt like I was walking through some sort of Lego 'the orient series' construction that my brother put together when he was younger. I wish I could have stayed there over night with ross reading Lolita and eating our spoiled tuna fish with crackers, but we live in a desert and deserts get unbearable cold at night. We finally saw the town and found a steep path which we slid down most of the way. About 20 minutes before the sun set we arrived tired and smelly to 金山岭. We washed up, ate like savages, drank beer and paid 20kuai to sleep on wooden beds which were really comfortable. Before we went to sleep, Ross read some Lolita to me which worked out perfectly 'cause i like being read to and he loves hearing his own voice.
The next morning we took some strange motorcycle carriage thing to the bus stop and then took a bus to Beijing.
It was my first time outside of 北京. I feel a tiny bit more Chinese. ><
Ross has some more pictures here.
Ross has some more pictures here.