Monday, June 13, 2011

Finally getting to the Great Wall

My family and I recently went to Beijing on a tour. We did the tour under Panda Travel / China Panorama Tours ( They've always had a good reputation with regards to their package tour to China; good hotel, good food, and good tour.

Going to the Great Wall of China with my parents is one of the things I can cross out from my bucket list. I wanted to make sure that they see the Great Wall and with that they would need my help.

To help not only because I have to push my dad around in a wheelchair (because he can't walk long distances); but also to get my mom out of our very busy schedule in our family business (our mom's a workaholic).

Finally, after 2 years of constant nagging, planning, researching and scheduling; I finally got the whole family including my 1 year old nephew to come and spend a family vacation in Beijing for Easter 2011.

My sisters and I who are fond of travelling usually go around the countries we visit on our own. We thought since we'd be going around with our dad and our nephew it would be best that we join a tour to make sure we get to see the whole city and cover all the tourist spots.

Well, BAD IDEA. It actually is the WORST IDEA. Here's the formula to the worst idea in the world. An old man in a wheel chair + a toddler who has to be in a stroller + a tour bus with 20 other people + rain + no wheelchair friendly facilities = STRESS

We were sooo tired in Day 1 visiting the Summer Palace, Tianamen Square and the Temple of Heaven. We were delaying the whole tour bus because we had to go up and down the stairs 1. helping my dad out; 2. someone to carry the wheelchair; 3. carry the sleeping baby; 4. carry the stroller and the diaper bags. When we got to who knows where, I think it was the Summer Palace, we just had to sit down at the coffee shop and buy us some time to breathe! That's when we decided at 4PM that we'll skip the rest of the tour, missing the Kung Fu Show and a dinner, to go back to the hotel and rest.

Thank goodness our hotel was a Hilton, it's called Double Tree, and by Hilton I mean good hotel, so going back there was like a sanctuary. Good working aircon, hot water, great bed and pillows, towels, Crab Tree & Evelyn toiletries, and concierge. We got a good rest to make sure to make time for the best attraction for tomorrow, Great Wall.

There is a saying by Mao ZeDong that goes: 「不到長城非好漢」: Who never climbed the Great Wall cannot be deemed a (wo)man; and so this made my dad going up all the way to the Great Wall even more meaningful than just a family trip.

The biggest challenge for us going up the Great Wall was the cable car. It doesn't really stop, and you wouldn't really think this was a problem if you don't have a problem walking or carrying a baby. One misstep and you'll trip; too slow... well you can imagine.

Finally, we arrived and the sight was beautiful. Imagine this was built by hand, no machines to carry the bricks and stones. They said each block on the Great Wall is equivalent to the number of people died building it. Amazing.

As my dad made his way up the steps, it was difficult because the steps were uneven, he was greeted by the passersby, rooting for him: "just a few more steps!" "he's gonna become a real man now!" "go go go!"

...and when we finally reached the steps of the Great Wall... the face of my dad was priceless, I almost cried when he reached the Wall. My dad was also a bit emotional, he's a bit of a softy, so all of these stress was all worth it when he stepped on the Great Wall.