BEIJING SIDEWAYS: the coolest thing to do in an otherwise pretty rough town

I’m not saying I didn’t have a good time in Beijing, but I will say its not the most tourist friendly place. Beijing is dirty, no one speaks english, the traffic is bad, and walking around on foot and trying to use a map is almost impossible, but this is China. Everyone told me I HAD to go there to see the great wall and the forbidden city. Maybe I didnt know the right people or maybe I wasnt hitting the right spots, but I have to admit, I didnt exactly “crush it” in Beijing.

The one thing I did right though, was to take this badass motorcycle tour to the great wall. Most tours to the great wall are with a tour bus packed with chinese tourists. Its a pretty pathetic scene, the tour guides wave flags, they herd you like cattle through a series of souvenir stops and tourist traps and peddle worthless shit. After a full day on a tourbus, just about everyone is disgruntled and pissed and then you see the wall.

My experience was very different. I was picked up at 9am by a native english speaking Canadian tour guide in a motorcycle with a sidecar. YES A SIDECAR. you get bundled up in blankets and then blazed around the streets of beijing in the sidecar of a motorcycle.

Pretty soon youre in the countryside and you realize that China isnt all about developed cities and crowds, and theres quite a bit of open space around you. We made a couple stops on the way, one at a nice pagoda in the mountains:

We arrived to a section of the wall that had almost no tourists there at all. We pulled into a tiny house at the edge of the mountains and had a beer before starting our climb.

My guide was cool and he actually gave me a lot of advice on Beijing and his travels in china in general. As we walked up the mountain, I finally was able to appreciate the grandiosity of this wall. We had lunch, including a decent bottle of wine, on the side of the wall on a clear bluebird sky day.

After about three hours of wide open views of the wall, we did see one small group of hikers on the opposite mountain, but apart from that, we had the whole wall to ourselves. At the end of the hike we jumped back on the motorcycle and we had the option of seeing the birdnest olympic stadium which I elected not to do since I was a little beat at that point. A wild motorcycle ride back into the congestion of beijing and I was home in one piece. All in all, a spectacular day in China.

The trip cost me about $325 as I recall. I can’t recommend it enough. If you ride with them, tell em Johnny Nitelife sent ya!

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