April 7, 2016, by Danny Bav
Stranded… but not forgotten
Oh China, the only place that would have tourist buses to the Great Wall, but no tourist buses back.
Okay… I admit we did get a little adventurous and decided to venture out to a deserted part of the wall 120km outside of Beijing， （金山岭 if anybody is interested), but we still expected some sort of transport to be available on the way back.
We were told the one tourist bus leaves at 3pm back for Beijing, so we arrived back from the Great Wall at 2:30pm, in good time. However, when the tourist bus pulled up, they told us it was full, left us in a weird service station area in the middle of nowhere and drove off… yay, thanks.
I ended up talking to some locals to get them to help us order a small minibus as there were a few other tourists stranded with us. After a long wait of several hours… there was no sign of the minibus, hmm…
Throughout the time at the service station a taxi driver, noting how desperate we were, tried his hardest to rip us off and charge us 100 RMB to the nearest town, where we would still need to catch a 3-4 hour public bus back to Beijing. The other tourists with us opted for this option, but as broke students we couldn’t afford it, so they all left us – we were alone.
So, what were our options?
a.) Wait for our small minibus that we ordered 2 hours ago and still hadn’t arrived
b.) Wait for another bus (we’d already been denied several times by this point)
c.) Cross the busy motorway and attempt to hitchhike
We opted for the more adventurous option out of them all, C.
We crossed the road and started to ‘attempt’ to hitchhike. To our surprise, a guy with a huge sleeper coach noticed us struggling and immediately offered us help (without an extortionate price like the other guy).
We boarded the weird sleeper coach and were immediately ambushed by Chinese people taking pictures of us – obviously having foreigners stranded 120km from the main tourist area in Beijing was quite unusual for them. The coach driver was quite friendly in taking us in, because Beijing wasn’t one of his planned stops. Since Beijing wasn’t a planned stop, he dropped us off in the middle of a motorway, where we had to go through a small fence in order to make it to one of the outer limit train station.
The bus wasn’t stopping in Beijing, the driver was doing us a favour. However, since there was no designated stop, he dropped us off in the middle of a motorway, where we had to go through a small fence to make it to one of the outer limit train stations.
Nevertheless, we’d made it back alive, in one piece and I can safely say “I’ve climbed the Great Wall”. You can be sure we celebrated our survival with some great Beijing duck and plenty of drinks in the evening.
Phew… it had been a long day!
不到长城非好汉 (bú dào Chángchéng fēi hǎohàn)
“He who has never climbed to the Great Wall is not a true man.”