Chinese New Year’s Eve Day – Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Cam pounded on our door at 7:10am; my watch alarm, with its meek beeping set for 6:00, had been completely useless. I bolted out of bed, got ready, then nearly sprinted downstairs to shove breakfast in my face before the tour bus arrived. At 8:00, we climbed aboard the bus and settled in for the hour-long ride.
The drive took us through areas that looked very similar to North America. However, pulling into the little town at the base of the range housing this section of the Great Wall, we knew for sure we were in China.
Our tour guide shared some of the history of the area and of the Wall, then set us loose to explore.
Kevin and I rode up to watchtower 6, and thus began our Great Wall trek to tower 20.
On our way back to watchtower 6, 2.5 hours into our adventure, our bodies were taxed. Going down the stairs, especially the 400, was a mind trip; watching every step, the rhythm of our feet hitting the stairs, the slight angling of each step, and mental exhaustion gave us the illusion that we were leaning back at a 45 degree angle as we descended the stairs. It was a strange feeling, one I later found out everyone else experienced, too.
Kevin stayed back with me since I was the slowest of the group, and at one point came up behind me and started pushing me along. Once we reached tower 6, we climbed onto rudimentary metal toboggans and slid our way down to the base.
We ate a typical Chinese lunch as a group at a restaurant at the base of the foothills. Then we boarded the bus for the return ride to the hostel for a relaxing evening. Cam, Liam, Will, Kevin, Shannon, Dave, Dave’s mom Helena and I hung out and were eventually invited into the hostel’s staff’s CNYE party. It was a blast.
At midnight the Chinese New Year fireworks spectacle began. I stood outside and marveled at the scene. Huge fireworks displays were set off on every street corner: deafening, brilliant colors reflecting off the clouds. I’ve never experienced anything like it. There wasn’t a quiet or dark moment for over an hour. It was joyous and a bit overwhelming.
My day began at 7:10 and ended around 4am. It was an incredible day that I was able to share with some wonderful people, and I’ll never forget it.