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The Great Wall at Jinshaling

The Great Wall of China had always been in my list of must-visit places. I can still vividly recall the first time I read about it in our high school text book. I was in complete awe reading about its history, how it was built spanning dynasties and centuries. When the opportunity to visit Beijing came along, the first thing I did was research on which part of the Great Wall is the least crowded of all. I quickly discovered this tour called China Highlights, which organizes a small group of 5 people for a three-hour trek along the wall. Although they advertise this on their web site as a trek from Simatai to Jinshaling, we actually trekked from Jinshaling to Shalingkou instead. But it was still a great walk. Jinshaling, is actually located in the town of Chengde, which is a couple of hours’ bus ride from Beijing. I chose this portion of the wall not only because it is a lot less crowded but also because these portions are authentic and unrestored, unlike the ones …

The Beijing Experience

My first impression of Beijing was unexpectedly nice. I was a bit wary to visit this city because of what people tell me — that it is very polluted, smoggy and that the people are rude. I was lucky to get there without so much smog and pollution, though. And I found most of the people quite nice and not rude at all, except maybe for the scamming cab drivers. I was impressed at how huge their airport is. You’d have to take a train after the immigration check to get your baggage. The immigration queue was considerably long but it took a very short time to get past it. I booked myself transportation in advance to take me to the hotel (since hubby was going straight to work) as I arrived very early in the morning and didn’t really want the hassle of haggling with the non-English speaking cab drivers. There was very thick traffic jams along the way. It took 45 minutes to get to the hotel. But I was impressed by the fact …