Next up was the Big Event, The Great Wall.
Luckily our dear friend Charles had put us in contact with a tour guide while we were there. Here name is Lucy and she turned out to be quite fabulous! A young lady, she had a great grasp of English with not only translations, but also the meanings. So she did not just repeat what she knew she was actually quite good at having a conversation. Aunt Mac was smitten I think, and Lucy certainly dotted on Aunt Mac as well. Lucy quickly figured out who was calling the shots in our group…..she affectionately said Aunt Mac was like the Dragon Lady (Empress) of olden times.
We headed to a more remote part of the wall from Beijing (again, GREAT tip from Charles). This area was much less crowded but very easy to get to and very nice. We were one of maybe 30 people on that section of the wall that day. Aside from the remote location and less crowds, one of the reasons we picked this location is that there was a cable car that took you up to the top,easier for Aunty you know? But as fate would have it, we were just starting high season and the car was not running yet. It started next week! Oh dear. So, up the stairs we started.
Along the way we picked up some tag alongs. Just sort of out of no where, these three women were walking with us. They said hello, but aside from that, not much. I assumed they were on their way to the all to set up vending stalls. But as we stopped to rest, they too would stop to rest. Lucy explained they would make the journey with us and there was not much to be done for that. They never tried to sell us anything. They were not beggars, and were in fact very friendly and nice.
As we made our way up (and up, and up) the slope we got to our first set of stairs. Aunt Mac put on a brave face and started the climb with a bit of a steady hand from me. After a short bit we got to a point and rested. As we went onto the next one, the girls were closer and offered a hand to Aunt Mac. How nice….. but then after then next as I went to help, I was gently nudged out of the way and with a girl on each side, Aunt Mac was escorted up the stairs. It continued that way for the next 2 hrs!!! They insisted on helping Aunt Mac on all the flights and rested when she wanted and started up again when she was ready! Later we said Aunt Mac had met the real Draggin’ Ladies, cause they dragged up and up that wall and all those steps!
It was actually quite touching. Aunt Mac had not thought she could do it, but we gently encouraged her to try and take her time. We had nothing else to do that day but this, so with a little help she made it up and there and got to see the amazing views and the Great Wall.
After that there was a bit more we could climb, but Aunt Mac was done with all those, so our unofficial guides offered to walk her back while Paul, Lucy and I kept on for a bit. Yes that’s right, I sent my Aunt off with some Chinese village people so we could continue sight seeing. It sounds so bad when you put in writing….. We continued on and saw a bit more, before heading back. Sure enough at the base there was Aunt Mac with the girls and now she had a few souvenirs with her…. They waited to the end to sell us a few things from their backpacks. I have say for the price of a few fans and picture book it was well worth it for all the help they gave us and for being nice rather that pushy vendors harassing us the whole time.
All in all it was a great day and a fun outing. We spend the following day with Lucy as well, more on that to come, but if you head that way, I highly recommend the extra time to go to the more remote section of the Great Wall, seeing it without all the crowds was worth it.
If you need a guide, please do look up Lucy, was great. email@example.com