With thunderstorms forecasted for our last day in Beijing we booked a driver to take us to the Great Wall of China as quickly as we could. Was about 90 minutes away from the hotel. The road leading there is stunning. You quickly exit Beijing and find yourself in the countryside.
After an hour of the journey one of my biggest fears came to fruition: Dylan needed the toilet for a number 2. Asked the driver to stop but he couldn’t understand. How do you explain this? Toilet? Bathroom? Restroom? Baño? – blank face. Oh dear! Again, if only Google wasn’t blocked you would show a picture but we would soon learn that it would probably have meant nothing…. A call to the tour company to translate and soon Dylan was “squatting” (as just a hole in the floor!) in a filthy, Chinese petrol station toilet with flies everywhere in the middle of nowhere. Help! At least Dylan is laughing his head off (at my instructions). Thank God I had paper as there wasn’t any. No chance of soap to wash hands. We are out of there in a flash. Santizer in the car and we survived.
About 20 minutes before arriving the skies turn very dark. As Beijing has a lot of smog it looked like an eclipse. Apocalyptic. Thunder, lightning and hardcore rain. We arrived at the parking lot at the Mutianyu section of the wall and it is pissing it down so hard and very cold now. Mark runs out to assess the situation. They stopped the cable car due to safety (this gave me such reassurance that they take safety serious here). What to do? To have come all this way and not make it. Mark is determined to hike all the way up without the cable car, in flip flops, and with no rain attire – I am not.
After 15 minutes of pondering the rain eases a little. Ponchos are being sold and five minutes later they re-open the cable car momentarily. Bought two ponchos, borrowed the driver’s umbrella and with no time to negotiate bought the most expensive red sweater made in China. At least it had pandas on, so the perfect souvenir! Off we go.
As we reach the top, the rain stops. All other tourists have fled so we get the wall to ourselves. Amazing. One of mans’ most outstanding creations. How did they do this? The skies clear, the sun eventually peaks out. Mark hiked a very steep section with Dylan on his back and got a massive cheer that echoed around the mountains. I watched from afar with Jonas.
Before they close we take one of the last gondolas back down. Head back to the hotel feeling accomplished. That is it. Our last destination on our list for this trip. We can go home.
As the plane lands in Chiang Mai we ask the flight controller if we can get our stroller at the gate. He hesitates for a moment, speaks on the radio and then turns round agreeing to it giving us the biggest smile. Oh Thailand, how we missed you.