October 10th, 1999
Cindy offered me to go to the Great Wall with them (must be thinking in the Dutch Style!) We left at 7am by bus to get to Huanghuakou. The wall was very impressive with beautiful autumnal colours and immense brickwork so high up a mountain. There was also some quite interesting hiking to do at some points. The views were amazing, but unfortunately the trip was a little spoiled by the crafty Chinese extortionists hanging around at some towers and gates charging to walk past their tower, and for damaging and eroding the soil around the wall on the trek back to the main road. Admittedly, there was evidence of soil erosion but they took the wrong attitude trying to be forceful to get a RMB5 toll. The woman then ripped up the money after the Dutch finally gave in as if to show the money was of no consequence but the principle of the erosion damage was of importance. It is true how environmentally damaging individual tourism can be. The walk back through the apple orchards was also nice. Ate in a Jiouzo restaurant in the main town and then bussed it back. I bought a reversible Nike/Reebok jacket in Dazhalanxi market then ate near the hotel with Cindy and Lars. When we returned to the hotel there was a Danish guy, also called Lars, in the dorm who was quiet and found it difficult or just uninterested to join into our conversation with a group who already ‘bonded’. Looking back, it was probably because he was a Chinese Language student (taking Danish tour groups around Beijing on his holiday) and thought he was above the likes of us backpackers, although at the time we were completely unbiased towards his attitude.