Trip to Chengde—The Great Wall

September 3rd

We finally arrived at the Jinshanling section of the Great Wall of China, the best maintained part of the wall. We walked up this trail, with shops on either side, and immediately were joined by peddlers who tried to sell us everything from chopsticks to clay sculptures. Walking along the wall, we encountered a camera crew, filming a movie, lugging up supplies and mounting a camera on a cinematographic crane. 4 of us went down a less-traveled section and found an empty guard house with chairs and tables where we had lunch.

Guard Tower

We also found stairs down to the ground where we went along a dirt path the locals used, winding through the forest—almost unsurpassable at times—until finally reaching a small town below. A local man started the trek up the steep, narrow, trail with us on our way back to the wall.

Mountain TrailAfter we traveled along much of the wall, Tony (another classmate) and I sat down at this tiny vendor and bought a cold beer, overlooking the surrounding mountain range and the endless reach of the Great Wall.

Me on the Jinshanling Section of the Great Wall

On our way back down we were accompanied by a persistent woman wanting to sell us a variety of things out of her pack, most notably these ornate Chinese fans. I had walked into another shop on the way up to the wall and attempted to barter for similar fans but the vendor refused to go as low as I wanted, and so I walked away. This woman was trying to sell me the fan for 70 yuan, and as a rule of thumb you would immediately cut that price in half and start bartering down from there. I, however, had only wanted to spend 10 yuan, a price unacceptable for the 1st shop owner, and apparently this woman as well. My haggling soon produced another stalemate, and I instead tried to practice my Chinese with her while we all walked back down to the bus. Every so often she would bring back up the question of buying something, to which I just repeated 10 yuan, and she said not possible, way too low, and then we resorted back to just walking. Tony, who was walking alongside me the whole time, added in that if she sold for 10, he would buy one also, but this too was no use.

We were within a hundred yards of the buses, and after discussing between ourselves in English, we got out the money and gestured to her, that we wanted 2 for 20 even though I knew it was no use. She kept saying no, until we literally were boarding the bus and we made one last offer, showing her the money. She finally broke down and slowly handed over the two fans…I could not believe it. We managed to get from 70 to 10 yuan, and by her reaction (and those of the other shop-owners earlier) made us confident that we really got a good deal. So, it was my first success at bartering and also my first souvenir—an ornate and well made Chinese fan.

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One Comment on “Trip to Chengde—The Great Wall”

  1. Dad Says:

    John,
    Excellent bargaining…that’s the way to do it…what a story!
    Love,
    Dad


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