The Great Wall of China, originally uploaded by bexadler.

I’ve been living in Shenyang, China, for the past month. I haven’t written about it at all because I haven’t really taken to China as much as I would have hoped, especially since I’ll be here for another year or so. And, well, I just don’t want to be a Negative Nancy about things. I figure it’s just culture shock and a huge learning curve, considering I live in a part of China where there isn’t a soul who speaks English and I don’t speak a word of Chinese.

With that said, China’s growing on me. I am so grateful for that, too, because otherwise I’d probably roll up in a ball and cry myself to sleep every night from now until I leave.

Instead, I have decided to get out of Shenyang as often as possible to see some of the more beautiful parts of China. First up, of course, was Beijing – mostly because it was closest, but also because I knew there would be rock climbing gyms and lots of Western foods so I could indulge my cravings for hot chocolate and croissants.

My favorite part about the trip to Beijing was not actually the city. It was the trip my friends and I took to The Great Wall. We drove about two hours outside of the city and then hiked a short way to the wall. The section is known as Jiankou, and is less visited than some other parts of the wall. This is partially because the wall is in a bit of disrepair at this section and has technically been closed to the public (rules, aren’t really rules in China though), but also partially because of the distance needed to travel there and the amount of effort it takes to actually walk this portion of the wall (my legs were definitely sore the next day).

Anyway, it was awesome to go to a part of the wall that is less visited and to actually go for a hike in the mountains. After being stuck among industrial era buildings and snow-covered streets for the past month, it was amazing to see trees and birds and squirrels. The wall was fantastic too, obviously. We spent three hours walking a good portion of the wall before turning back. I’d have loved to have continued on to see where it went but it was getting late in the day and we didn’t have any gear with us. Maybe next time I’ll bring my tent and see how far I get…

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