A freezing winter weekday morning is the perfect time to visit a portion of the Great Wall.
Jay and Tanya stayed the previous evening in Beijing. We enjoyed freshly prepared vegetables and noodles at a tiny tucked-away neighborhood restaurant, where we were the only foreigners. Since our knowledge of Mandarin doesn’t extend much beyond “hello” and “thank you” ordering was of the “pointing at a picture” or “gesturing to a nearby table—I’ll have what they’re having” variety. The wait staff enjoyed the hilarity of our trying to maneuver long noodles into tiny bowls—obviously not the right receptacle for this food item—and were gracious enough to help these two foreign nincompoops as they worked their way through dinner.
Afterwards, a relaxing sleep at the Sunworld Hotel, near Tiananmen Square, and we were off early the next morning to visit the portion of the Great Wall at Badaling. Tanya and Jay had last been here 15 years ago, in late August, when the weather can be hot and humid and the crowds can be heavy. What a difference this time! We arrived at the ticket booth about ten minutes before it opened and we were the first, and practically only, visitors on the wall! Amazing!
Fortunately, neither of us has brain disease so we were confident in our ability to hike up the wall. It was a glorious morning.