Monday, August 8, 2011

Day of Disappointment

Today we had a long series of unfortunate events.  Yesterday,  Lee suggested that we use his driver, who he had been using for 10 years,  to take us to visit the Great Wall of China.  He told us that the driver was reliable, would show up on time, and had a nice car.  Previously, we had met a guide on the streets of Beijing, who offered to take us to a deserted section of the wall at Jainkou.  His name was Steen and the three of us had good feelings about him.  However, given that we know Lee and that Lee lives in Beijing, we took his advice and arranged for his driver to take us to Jainkou.

We got up at seven in the morning ready to see the wall.  With bursts of excitement, we ran down stairs to eat breakfast before the long day.  We were going to a part of the wall that had few tourists, and practically no one knows about.  After we had driven for almost two hours, we arrived at a parking lot swarming with people.  We were looking for a remote part of the wall called Jainkou.  The sign told us that we were at the Simatai section of the Wall.  The driver did not speak English, so we called Lee's assistant, Bei Bei to translate for us.  While Bei Bei and the driver were talking, in rolled, one, two, three... eighteen fully packed tour buses, one after another.  We spent half an hour standing in the hot parking lot negotiating with the driver to take us, as we had arranged, to Jainkou. 

The Remote Section of the Wall????

We then drove for another hour and a half back to the outskirts of Beijing.  We had just driven all the way into the mountains only to drive back again.  The driver at this point, seemed confused, angry, and lost.  He repeatedly stopped to ask directions from people on the street.  Again, we turned onto a highway and headed into the mountains, now in a different direction.  After four and a half hours of searching for the Wall, he took us to a gate where we bought tickets for who knows what.  We then proceeded through the gates only to find that this section of the wall had no access to the public.  Steen and the guide book both told us that this was not Jainkou, but the driver insisted that we had arrived.   At this point, we asked the driver to bring us back to Beijing ( another hour and a half drive).  We arrived in Beijing at 3:00 having learned a 150 buck lesson:  trust your instinct and keep your eyes open.
Tienanmen Square
Our driver dropped us in central Beijing.  We then wandered to Tienanmen Square to see Chairmen Mo's dead, persevered body.  On arrival...................they were closed on Mondays.  From there, we went to a market in the middle of town.  This was a little touristy, but we did not mind.  From there we took a cab to our hotel were I am writing my blog.  Tomorrow, we will again try to conquer the Great Wall of China. This time with Steen.

The Market

Thank you for reading  Rohan Geographic!


  1. Rohan,
    What a day! I would have been beside myself with frustration if I had experienced the time you had trying to get to the Great Wall.
    I hope today goes better for you all.
    Love, Grandma Doris

  2. Siddhartha, given to me by my company commander at the height of VietNam...reminded me a bit of Holden Caulfield. Couple of different but really pretty good guys..
    'The Tour Bus Incident' Every good 'Around the World Trip' has to have one. 'If it doesn't kill you it makes you stronger.' After ours we took to getting to whatever attraction an hour before the buses and smile at the throng of people on there way in as we headed out for gelato.
    Great opening pic.

  3. It's easy to get to Jainkou - Get on the highway towards Loch Ness and just before Atlantis, turn left. Jainkou doesn't exist - merely a 'trap' for foreign devils and their ilk. Mwhaaaaa haaaa haaaaa! (Evil laugh)

    Hopefully tomorrow will be more fulfilling! Good Luck!