Mutianyu Great Wall Adventure

We awoke at 7:45 to go to Mutianyu Great Wall.

The hotel told us it would cost 380 yuan each to go by bus with them and have lunch and entry into wall.

Tourist place told us 700 yuan just for car to go and wait for us and bring us back.

Are you fucking kidding me?

Yet another way this country rapes it tourists. Ridiculous costs and special tourist prices for everything.

Opt to go the route described by my guidebook. It requires a total of 100 yuan each ($15-18). We like.

We walk to Hepingmen subway and ride to Dongzhimen station. At Dongzhimen we walk into bus station. People try to talk to us in English but they are all fakes. Trying to trick us out of our money. The Chinese way of welcoming tourists I’m learning.

Go to info booth and ask about bus. 936 isn’t running. But 916 goes to Huairou and then you catch taxi to Great Wall. You purchase tickets at the bus waiting line. We walk over and spot 916. Get in line. Bus pulls up. I can’t find my money so OL must pay. We pay and board getting the last two seats together.

It’s pretty confusing when to get off. But the guidebook says Minzhu square. So I look for the one stop that is minzhu and luckily I know what guang chang means. We are paranoid about missing our stop and count each stop. Bus ride is only about 1 hour to Huairou Mingzhu guang Chang stop.

As we get off Chinese guy says Great Wall. OL and I are programmed to say no to everyone because of scammers.

But I remember that we need to catch private ride to wall. We talk to guy and he agrees to 25 yuan each. We ride with windows down. Nice breeze. Mountains are gorgeous. Overcast with a little rain but otherwise lovely day.

Driver chats with me in Chinese. Mine is rusty but we seem to communicate. Get to Great Wall. It’s overcast and sprinkling. Makes it super humid. There are stalls of souvenirs, but it’s pretty chill compared to Badaling in 1998.

OL pays student price and I pay adult price. We ixnay the cable car cause guidebook says easy climb to wall.

Wrong. Imagine 1000 stairs to wall. Maybe more. Some are just hundreds of steps together. Intense cardio. I am sweating so hard my glasses fog up. My pants get streaked with sweat. My entire t shirt is drenched.

And we haven’t even reached the wall yet. Did I mention I’m huffing and puffing. So not attractive. And dripping sweat runs into my eyes.

Thanks to the humidity. I cannot cool down. I drink some water and keep at it.

Get to mid point. Only at the midpoint?! Omfg.

Keep climbing realizing should have cable carred it up.

Get to top

and go to 7th tower. It’s the only tower we encountered where you can take a stairwell to top and get panoramic view of wall. Wow.

Confession time. At first, I didn’t want to go up because I’m afraid of heights and of tight places but it went okay. Glad I went up because the next several guard towers all lacked rooftop access. Plus fighting fear and doing something I want to do is important to me. OL was proud of me when my head popped up on the rooftop.

We then wandered west to watchtowers 8-14 or 15.

I ran low on water, but the few people selling drinks up there charged 4-5x the normal rate. Finally, I had to pay it to get a Sprite. But the guy brought the stuff up on a donkey and was super pleasant to us at least.


The great wall at Mutianyu is stunning. A snake winding across the mountain. Which means lots of steps and slopes. But it was gorgeous to see.

We spent about 2 hours on the wall taking pictures and exploring.


Did I mention how the fog rolled in at one point? Majestic.

OL helped me with descending steps. I always get vertigo on them and trip. The steps literally go 2-d on me. He walked into a branch and said but is princess kourtney okay. Lol. I was.

Down is harder for OL but easier for me. Took like 30 minutes.

We browsed the shops at the end of the wall. Lots of cheapy souvenirs.

All the same, but still found some nice souvenirs. Got a couple tshirts. Have to check all the seams carefully. They unravel on many of them.

We hit subway for lunch of chicken terriyaki sandwiches. Prices are way higher there than in Beijing or Xian. (Just a dollar or two, but we are budget travelers so we count every yuan)

It’s 4pm and we are looking for ride back. Driver tells us 350 to ride in van to Beijing. We say cannot afford it. He says 30 each to Huairou bus station.

Then he says has to wait for people. And it’s going to be a bit. Tries to get us into his van. I refuse. I never let anyone get me into a lockable space.

Plus it is hot in there.

We ask how long again. He tells us 4:30. So we wander stalls. I see a t-shirt I like but the seam unravels. So the woman gets me another one. Same issue. And another one. Same issue. She tells me not a problem. But it is. It will unravel in wash. Making it my problem if I buy it. She drags me to the warehouse area and shows me another one.

Same issue. It’s just a bad batch. She and boss try to tell me just to cut it. That won’t work. Then the woman tries to grab the collar of my tshirt and show me how the seam of the tshirt i am wearing is sewn.

First off don’t fucking touch me. Second off, never touch my neck or face. And third, I cannot possibly see that from this angle.

I give her the dirtiest look and recoil from her.

She curses me out in Chinese. I love how she feels secure saying shit in front of me. Confident that a stupid foreigner can’t possibly speak her language. Thinking I don’t get it. Cause I do understand it, but I don’t reply. Because I’m done engaging with jackasses.

Just obnoxious and ignorant.

We go back to minivan guy. It’s 4:30. He puts on a good show of looking for his people and acting like they are late. I doubt he even has people. I think he’s either got no one and waiting for more people to throw in van or he has people and is lying about time they are supposed to arrive.

Very typical behavior here I’m learning.

He is committed to his lie. Pretending to watch for them. Acting annoyed that they take so long.

But when we all pile into van at 4:45, they (three German tourists who speak pretty good English) ask how long we waited and I say 45 minutes. They ask what time he said they were coming. We say 4:30. They tell us 5 was their return time.

If he had simply said 5pm, we would have browsed the shops more. But instead we were waiting in the parking lot by the van on the off chance that he might be telling the truth.

Shady driver. At least he drops us all at the bus stop. But I have to say the lying really irks me. I just don’t get why you have to screw foreigners to the wall here. It’s  the most intense racism I’ve ever experienced.

We catch the bus a few minutes later and ride back to dong zhimen  arriving around 6:20. Subway is intense but we get to Hepingmen. Then walk home except walk north not south. Double back. Rain is still going on and weather feels cooler.

We go to hotel for 10 min break then get on way to dinner. But Ofc the restaurant we want is full except for upstairs which is hot and stenchy. So bumped out. We wander north and find nothing. Grrr. So we double back. Go sit in hot pot place but it smells of stench. Go to Chinese restaurant across street.

The woman throws her order pad on table and throws menu at us. Total bitch. Look you don’t want us to eat here, we can leave. Yet another way Beijing makes it clear foreigners are not welcome here.

She forgets our sodas. OL has to ask. Then she rips us off. Literally pads the handwritten bill 14 yuan. I added it in my head when we ordered. I’m too tired to fight with her so i pay it.

But I think this is a consequence of bargaining. The idea that there is no one price but price levels for people based on what they look like and how much you think they can afford to pay.

It’s just so fucking wrong.

We walk back to room after an amazing day and wonder why China pretends to want tourists and blatantly abuses them. No one wants to go back where they are clearly not wanted.

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8 Responses to Mutianyu Great Wall Adventure

  1. Lucas says:

    Seeing the top of the great wall looks like it was very satisfying. Such a remarkable place. Too bad you guys didn’t ride the cable car up. The stairs look steep and long. Was it buggy? Any wildlife?

  2. Simon says:

    Nice read, really gave me a glimpse into what it’s like to be a tourist in China.

  3. berry says:

    Great wall trip sounds good. You need to leave soon. Can’t wait to hear more of the saga.

  4. Great photos, thanks for sharing. Mutianyu Great Wall is a good alternative for Badaling, often quiet, with less tour buses and stops. Badaling gets more tourists than Mutianyu. If you could visit only one, and want to enjoy a better views with less crowds, Mutianyu is right for you.

    • Thanks. I’d been to Badaling back in 1998 during my first visit to China. I wanted to see a different part of the wall. It was a lot more work to get there, but definitely worth it. 🙂

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