The Great Fail Of China

There’s something beautiful and peaceful about waking before the sun, and then there’s the horrendousness of waking up at 4am courtesy of jet lag. While I’m up I’ll share the events that took place on Thursday, September 18th.

I don’t believe I’m the first to come up with this, but I have a theory that human beings were not designed to sit in airplane seats for prolonged amounts of time. My body backs this notion 100%.

China is a looong way from Orlando.

To make this grueling journey whizz by, Carro and I decided to eat some sleeping pills on the 14-hour flight from Detroit to Beijing. Fast forward to 1 glass of wine and 2 hours later and we were contorted into positions worthy of a Cirque Du Soleil performance.

At one point during my self-inflicted tranquilization, I awoke to an intense burning in my leg. The pain began at my hip and spread to my toes like wildfire. Certain that my leg had somehow been removed from my body while I was out cold, I panicked and proceeded to kick around in my 2x2 square ft area. Bad idea. Turns out I had been sleeping on my one side for the better half of the last 4 hours and my body gave up trying to circulate blood to it. Minutes turned to hours (not really) of excruciating pain as my blood raced to the forgotten parts of my body. While undergoing this torture, I looked over at Carro in the middle seat. She had a big gummy smile plastered on her face as she soared through a land of fluffy clouds and unicorns. 

Note to self: be more like Carro.

When we arrived in China I would come to find that this little setback was to be the least of my worries. It all began with our desire to see The Great Wall.

To describe The Great Wall in one word I would say it is overwhelming. It’s vastness and beauty is too great (see what I did there) to even capture in photos. When I climbed 10 minutes up a ladder cleverly disguised as stairs, I began to fathom the sheer manpower it must have taken to build such a wonder.

Seeing it almost made up for the journey it took to get there. Almost. 

To describe the journey to the Wall in one word, I would say harrowing. I know I am a guest in this country and I can’t speak their language so why should they speak mine, but when you have one of the largest tourist attractions in the world, you’d think a couple people would have picked up the phrase ‘The Great Wall’. Nope. 

The journey to the Great Wall went as follows:

  • Wake up at 6am - hooray for Jet lag!
  • Have $8 hotel coffee with Bradlee in the lobby and discuss World Politics.
  • 7am skate with the rest of the crew to find semi-westernized breakfast.
  • Find a Costa coffee and have a delightful breakfast filled with cappuccinos and croissants.
  • Think to self, “This is gonna be a good day”.
  • Realize we are close to the Forbidden City and decide to skate there before TGW.
  • Skate in the wrong direction for 30 minutes courtesy of my inaccurate directions.
  • Ask several passersby to lead us in the right direction - no one speaks an ounce of English.
  • 45 minutes later eventually stumble upon extravagant looking palace and acres of tourists.
  • Despair turns to happiness once again.
  • 10:14am Enter Forbidden City.
  • Chinese tourists become much less interested in the Palace and begin taking photos of white people doing silly things for photos.

  • Said tourists begin to line up for photos with the latest and greatest attraction: Blonde Swedish Girl.
  • Finally lose the papz and walk to the end of the City with a lot of oohs and ahhs.

  • Get our fix of Forbidden City knowledge and skate in right direction to hotel, which takes approximately 8 minutes.
  • Shower, change and prepare selves for the epicness of tobogganing down TGW.
“What’s greater than seeing one of the seven wonders of the world? TOBOGGANING down one of the Seven Wonders of the World!!”
  • Go down to lobby at 1:05pm
  • Hopes and dreams shattered when receptionist tells us TGW closes at 4pm and cars have to be requested 2 hours in advance.
  • Prove her wrong when we pile 5 people into a taxi, while waving 600 Chinese Yuan and reassuring the taxi driver that 4 people in the back is a great idea.
  • Sit in taxi content that we are on track to seeing the one thing we came there for.
  • Fast forward to 30 minutes later: Arrive in parking lot.
  • Not the Great Wall.
  • Driver insists it’s Great Wall.
  • I repeat: Not the Great Wall.
  • We get out at the ‘Summer Palace’ in a foul mood. I’m sure it was a beautiful place but we did not care.
  • Hopes of Great Wall sightings steadily declining. 
  • Finally convince new taxi driver to take us to TGW. He seems unsure. Start to question if Great Wall even exists.
  • Fast forward 2 hours of extremely uncomfortable taxi ride and we are sitting in complete standstill traffic just minutes from TGW entry.
  • We stay here for 30 minutes while our souls drain of any happiness or excitement we once felt.
  • Eventually arrive at Great Wall to find that it’s closed, but convince the ticket guy to let us in. He sees the immense sadness in our eyes and pities us.
  • Things are looking up.
  • The Great Wall is WONDERFUL.

  • Paid taxi driver another 600 Chinese Yuan to wait 30 minutes for us and then drive us back the 90 minutes to our hotel.
  • Paid total of 1500 Chinese Yuan to see Wall for 30 minutes.
  • Took hour taxi to the airport in the morning
  • Paid 57 Chinese Yuan. 

This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 24, 2014. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response.

2 Responses to “The Great Fail Of China”

  1. Cool.. at least you did actually walk on TGW.... you would think it was something small in China! But then folks are never tourists in their own town! Great experience for the memory bank! :)

  2. the greatest lesson I learnt when travelling. the most famous landmarks tend to be the most disappointing! - josh