Baby on the Great Wall (BJ Bucket List #2)

We had a great recommendation from a friend to stay at Great Wall Fresh. We were picked up by Mr. Chen’s lovely son in a very comfy car from line 13 subway and we cruised past the touristy Badaling, and soon found ourselves in a lovely Chinese village called Chenjiapu.

The accommodation was great, and all of the food was fresh from the garden, cooked by Mrs. Chen. Adella enjoyed Chinese mantou for the first time.

We unfortunately stayed on a very foggy day, but we were so glad to have clean fog rather than smog. So, it ended up being quite a mysterious hike along the wall. Because of the fog and having the little one with us, we did their “easy” hike, but it was still a solid three hours, and we kept up quite a pace! The Wall was highly variable, with weather-eroded turrets, and some pieces of complete wall, whilst other bits had completely disappeared.

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We’ve been to a number of parts of the wall in our six years (Sancha, Jiankou, Simatai, Jinshanling, Badaling{bleh}), and I would highly recommend Great Wall Fresh to anyone looking for a Chinese homestay-style Great Wall getaway. If you have any questions, please drop them in the comments below.

Why we’re leaving China…

I’m feeling sad today. I took bubs out for a walk this morning to run some errands. And I was walking to the market, I ran into so many grandmas who wanted to say hello to bubs and exclaim over her. Then, a lovely lady started chatting to me, and we walked and talked for at least 5 minutes. No agenda – just a general chat about life. We parted ways as I headed downstairs to hunt for some buttons and she wandered off in search of cheap vegies. Why is this sad? Because a thought kept sneaking back into my mind… we shouldn’t be outside… the pollution is too high today… I should be walking faster so we’re back inside sooner.

Sad.

So yes, it’s sad. We’re sad. Super sad. It’s been a really hard decision. The hardest we’ve ever made. It’s weird. It should have been harder to leave Australia and move over here in the first place, but it’s not. It’s much harder to leave. We’ve created our adult lives here. We have a home and careers. But it’s time.

This year has been tough. We’ve put up with three months of intense pollution. Intense. We didn’t really have a break. In the past six years that we’ve lived here, winter has always been beautiful. Blue skies and winter sunshine has always dominated, despite the cold temperatures. But this year was different.

When we think back to our childhoods, we both played outside, in the backyard, on the beach and in the playground. If we stay, I fear Adella will be stuck inside an apartment too much. She loves going outside so much and I’m tired of that being dictated by the pollution report.

I also don’t feel like we’re living the same adventurous lifestyle that we were before. Yes, we have a kid now, but we no longer eat street food and we search high and low for organic, clean food. And I feel that more and more we are living a western lifestyle in China, rather than embracing the wonderful culture that surrounds us.

Speaking of surroundings, we’re going to miss our Beijing family so much. We’ve built such a wonderful, supportive community here. We’ve had some amazing adventures and we have been so lucky to have ayi for Adella’s first year, which has allowed us to go back to work knowing that she was being looked after so well.

How are we dealing with it? I’ve been busying myself with a lot of sewing, studying for the HSK and in the evenings, we’ve been working our way through 7 seasons of American Dad. Living slightly in denial…

I know that once we arrive back in Australia and are surrounded by family and friends, we will feel different. We get to enjoy the sunshine, go to the beach, eat amazing food and start a new adventure. It will be fantastic. I know that.

But today, I’m sad.20130328_075839

Because sometimes it looks like this…
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…but other times it looks like this.

(Same bridge, two different directions, obviously two different days).