I woke up nice and early this morning to the sound of my alarm. It's one of those annoying beeping sounds that quickly turns into an annoying buzz. I wanted to let it go longer so Kev could hear it too but it was driving me nuts. I pressed the snooze button and closed my eyes and then woke up seconds later in a panic. I had remembered something about possibly clicking snooze in Madrid and not hearing the second alarm. I stayed awake for a few more minutes before waking Kev up so we could start our day.
I'm pleased to announce that the showers are getting better. I've brought my options from freezing cold, cold, or scalding hot to really hot or scalding hot. The showers are still quite refreshing even with those options. It just sometimes take a little longer since it's hard to stay under the water for so long.
Last night we bought ourselves some random food to have for breakfast (and lunch) and turns out that it wasn't much of a breakfast. I bought this premade strawberry jam (I think) sandwich with some crackers and cheese flavored sticks. I had the sandwich and stole a part of Kev's chocolate and vanilla cake. It pretty much looked like the cake thing that I bought with Robynne in Italy, only it wasn't covered in chocolate. It was good tasting.
After eating our "breakfast" we went down to the reception/tourist desk area to see about our tour. To the Great Wall! It turns out that we were the only ones who booked that tour so we got the bus all to ourselves. That was awesome. It was like our own private tour, but not since the wall was covered with other tourists. On the way to the wall I noticed that some of the street signs are rather amusing. They have signs that remind drivers to keep a safe distance between vehicles, don't drink and drive, don't drive while drowsy, watch out for heavy loads on certain roads. What makes this signs so amusing to me is the illustrations on them. It's not the simple stick figure that I'm used to. They're mini cartoons with some details. They grab your attention, which is awesome.
Bicycles here still fascinate me. Rather, it's what people put on the bicycles. I've seen this one man with a huge pile of balloons. Its amazing the balloons were making the guy float away. While another man has a back filled with huge water bottles, some carry huge pieces of wood while others have large bags. This one lady had her child in a basket behind her (the child looked to be 5-6, so she could hold on). There's also a large number of bicycles on the streets. There are almost as many bikes are there are cars, which is saying a lot. It's crazy!
The ride up to the wall took about 2 hours, it wasn't that bad of a trip since the scenery was amazing. We drove up into mountains and passed by a huge lake and I got to see some fishermen on the lake. It was pretty neat. When we got to the bottom of the wall it was pretty exciting. Our tour guide had given us some information on the history of the wall before we arrived so we were eager to get onto the wall. We went to a map to decide which tower we wanted to go up. We could either hike up the mountain to get to the wall. That clearly went away. We wanted the easy option of getting a lift up there. There were two options; cable car or chair lift. We chose the cable car (it was slightly cheaper) and were on our way. There are several mini stalls along the way of to get to the cable car. There's also a hill. A steep enough hill that left me exhausted by the time I got to the top and then I had to climb some stairs to access the cable car! Half way up Kevin commented on our choice for an "easy way up the mountain". I kept telling myself that it was going to get better. It eventually did and it was worth it. The view of the town below is absolutely amazing and the wall is gorgeous! I can't think of any words to truly describe the wall. It's pretty high up, I could feel the pressure on my ears as we were going up. We walked along the wall for a bit and Kevin pulled out his cell phone with the hopes that it would dial out. We thought it'd be fun to call and say "Hey, guess where we are? The Great Wall. Yeah, that's right. I'm talking to you while standing on the wall" or something like that… he settled on taking some photos with his cell to use as a background. After walking past a few towers we decided to make our way back so we could check out some of the stalls. I bought myself the game Mah Jong, it's a traditional Chinese board game, it looks pretty neat. Kevin bought himself a cone hat with some pretty designs on it. It's awesome looking.
Our lunch was also included in the tour. That was a pleasant surprise. Our tour guide preordered us some chicken and peanuts for lunch and asked if we had any specific vegetable that we'd want to eat. We told her no and she seemed rather pleased. We ended up having tomatoes and eggs. It was different but good. There were little pieces of chives in there which really added to the flavor of it. The chicken and peanuts was great as well. We got little bowls of rice to eat it with, so it was rather nice. It was also different to eat the entire thing with chopsticks. We sat a table with a spinning thing in the middle and there were two plates (one with the tomatoes and eggs, the other with the chicken and peanuts) while we each got our own bowl of rice. We had to grab the food from the plates in the middle and bring them to our rice bowls with the chopsticks. It was fun.
We also played a Chinese version of hacky sac before lunch with the tour guide. It's a bunch of little metals disks put together with some feathers and you have to hit it with your feet to each other. We started to play it because I had asked what they were, I'm glad I did. We had tons of fun. Although I have to admit that I was quite surprised to see how much energy I had to be able to play it in the first place. I was horrible at it, but I did managed to hit it once or twice. I'm not sure who had more fun, us or the tour guide.
After lunch we headed back to the hostel so we could take a quick power nap for the Kungfu show tonight! I also typed this up now because I'm sure I'll have a bunch of pictures of the show as well.
There's still plenty of pictures to come...Internet's slow and we have Kungfu!