Saturday, January 19, 2013

Great Wall Mutianyu

       I’ve finally found quiet time to sit, upload some photos and update the blog. This time, let me take you with us to the Great Wall Mutianyu – China.  The idea to explore Great Wall Mutianyu came from our friend, Walid Tirouche. I was having drinks with Clement in the bar, we had this plan going to Great Wall Badaling the next morning - simply because it's so easy to get there by train from Beijing North Station  to Badaling station – then suddenly these 3 happy musketeers came in and Walid was like "No way, we're not going to Great Wall Badaling. Too touristic.Let's do Mutianyu instead !" Salim Guennouni, the sleepyhead’s face also added “Yeah, let’s go to Mutianyu !”
       So after browsing how to get there, we decided to leave the hostel at 7 am the next morning. The temperature that day was around -13' celcius, too cold in fact that I couldn't feel my hands. 9 of us took train from Tiananmen East to Dongzhimen station ( ¥2 ), took the “H” exit and turn left out of the subway station. The only guide I read last night was some info from Great Wall Wikitravel. When I thought it’d be easy to find the bus number 867 to Great Wall Mutianyu, I was completely wrong. You can actually see the bus station is at your left side when you get out of the subway station, but since the bus station was very huge and we didn't see any sign or number 867, I started to ask few people and policeman I met on the street - in Chinese. I haven't spoken Mandarin in a long time, forgot some words but it was really fun to talk to the local people, asking directions, even when I feel stuck trying to tell them what's on my mind but I couldn't find the right words to say - still I felt happy to finally practice my Chinese again. The old lady I met at the exit door of the subway station told me to turn left and walk straight - do not accross the street. 9 of us were exactly like little kids running on the street chasing the bus, screaming happy and panic again when the clock showed us it was already 8.25 am. The 867 bus was scheduled to leave Dongzhimen to the Great Wall at 8.30 am and to be honest we thought we would never make it there if we missed the bus.
      After keep walking straight, we still didn't see any sign or bus with number 867. There were lots of mini buses, private taxis, and some people that tried to offer us tours to Great Wall Mutianyu. Walid and Salah then found a seperate bus terminal outside the Dongzhimen main building, shame the last 867 bus to Great Wall Mutianyu just left probably couple of minutes ago before we finally reached the bus terminal. I asked an old man whether if he knew there's another buses going to Mutianyu, he said I could find bus number 916 - leaving every one hour from the main bus station. So we walked again to the main bus station and phewww....bus number 916 was there, in fact there were many of them, so don't worry if you missed one. We paid ¥11 per each person for bus ticket and it took us around 2 hours to get to the Huairou city.

At the bus stop Huairou Beije, before taking cab to the great wall
      Always, always becareful with the scam scenes in China and if you read the Great Wall Wikitravel about some taxi drivers in league with the bus driver (who may be on the bus from Dongzhimen) will try and get you to come off the bus at the wrong stop in order to ensure that you take their taxi, THAT WAS EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED TO US ! The man that collected our money in the beginning came to me and told us to get off the bus at the Huairou Beije. Well I wasn't sure if it was the right bus stop, when I asked the local people around me - they didn't give any response so yeah we got off the bus and planning to have coffee or hot tea before continue our journey. But this man kept following us and told me there was no buses to the Great Wall so the only option we had to take his taxi which we had to pay  ¥50 per person.
      As I didn't see any Great Wall Mutianyu or bus sign around us, I decided to accross the street to check this taxi driver's car. Mini van, enough for 9 of us, and he agreed with the price ¥20 per person to the Mutianyu. Let's go ! In less than 20 minutes, we arrived at the Great Wall Mutianyu. Woohoo !

Entrance fee is ¥45, but if you bring your students card with you, you will only have to pay ¥25. The boys decided to walk up through steps to get to the Great Wall, which - to be honest it wasn't easy at all if you wear boots with heels like what I did. I know, I know, I shouldn't even wore that shoes. Beauty is pain, haha. If only I knew earlier I had to walk up those stairs and my boots would actually hurt  my feet, I'd wear something more comfortable. Amine that saw me struggling going up to the great wall ( I had to stop every 3 minutes for a short break ), offered me to take a cable car, simple because it's safe for me ( my feet ). We then took a cable car (¥80 for round trip), oh well.. it was much easier and amazed me how gorgeous the Great Wall Mutianyu views covered with snow.


           We spent the whole afternoon at the Great Wall Mutianyu. The view was simply breathtaking and it wasn't that cold up there. Quiet, peaceful, wish I could wake up every morning with those views.
           We left the Great Wall at 3pm, took the same taxi and paid another ¥20 / person back to the Huairou city, caught 916 bus back to Dongzhimen. Overall we had a good day at the Great Wall Mutianyu. Yes we skipped breakfast and lunch, were very hungry, cold and tired, but the little adventure we've been through since this morning was very worth it. I couldn't be more luckier to have the boys helped me walking up or down those stairs :) You guys are my real heroes.
One of my favorite photos : Believe me, it was never easy to walk down those stairs with a pair of boots with heels.
With Salah and Clement

And overall we had good times at the Great Wall Mutianyu

For your information, a trip to Great Wall Mutianyu costs you ¥191 - that is including subway (¥2 one way ), bus from Dongzhimen to Huairou City #916 ( ¥11 one way ), Great Wall entrance fee ( ¥45 ), cable car ( ¥80 round trip), taxi from Huairou city to the Great Wall ( ¥20 one way or ¥40 return, the taxi drivers will wait for you )

And then, as we were all very hungry, Clement found us a really nice Chinese restaurant at the Wangfujing area. We ordered lots of good food, beers, hot tea - just a big dinner to end a great day.

Next post : Beijing & Shanghai... Stay tuned :)


1 comment:

  1. Well done ! You are so brave and adventurous! These are great pictures of the Great Wall! Which reminds me... I should go through my India pictures and post some. Having read this I thought it was rather informative. I appreciate you finding the time and energy to put this article together. I once again find myself personally spending a significant amount of time both reading and leaving comments. But so what, it was still worth it! In return, I also found a great blog of Jinshanling travel tips, I'd love to share it here with you and for future travelers.