Thursday, March 03, 2016

The Great Wall and Hongluo Temple

When we first began planning our trip, we asked the kids what the places were that they most wanted to visit. Weston didn't hesitate to express his interest in seeing the Great Wall of China. (The other kids were also excited about visiting, but this was Weston's first choice of all the potential places to go.) Finally, the day arrived! We hired a driver for the day and made the hour-long drive from Beijing up to the Mutianyu section of the wall. It was a pretty smoggy day, but the weather was relatively warm and the sun did shine through the haze, so were were able to see the wall and the surrounding mountains pretty well. We also arrived early (and in the winter), so there was almost no one else visiting at the time we were there. We rode a chairlift up to the wall, wandered around on it for a while, and then rode the toboggan down. It was an amazing experience!

When we saw all we wanted to see of the wall and the surrounding area, we still had some prepaid time with the driver, so he recommended a Buddhist temple (Hongluo Temple) not far from the wall. We were game, since we have never visited anything like that before. Though the incense perfumed air was a bit strong and the deities were quite strange to us, the temple grounds were really lovely and interesting, especially since they were still decorated for the Chinese New Year.

PRO TRAVELER TIP: Public toilets in Beijing are generally squatty potties (basically, glorified holes in the ground) and toilet paper is not provided. Soap and hand drying equipment are also not provided. This seems to be an under-discussed bit of travel information that might be useful to others who plan to visit this city in the future. You may consider it your public service announcement for the day, and hopefully, it will save someone the shock and discomfort we experienced when we first arrived. Today, everyone carried his or her own stash of paper, and I slathered everyone liberally with hand sanitizer just about every time they turned around.

Watts at The Great Wall

The Great Wall of China

The kids didn't know about the toboggan ahead of time and were so excited to
to learn that this was how were would be coming down the mountain.

Some other interesting sights at the wall:
Genghis Khan playing Xiangqi (Chinese Chess)
and a lovely park across the street

Hongluo Temple

Hongluo Temple entrance, decorated for the Year of the Monkey

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