By Cody Stephenson
From time to time one ponders the question, why must the alarm be ringing in my ear at this hour? It often comes down to a decision between proceeding to continue with human activity or to cut all ties to the world and live in bed. So far, every single one of us have managed to choose the first option and roll out of bed and continue the grind. It's not always the most exciting thing to walk into the breakfast room at 7:30 in the morning, but with a couple pieces of toast with Nutella and one to four hardboiled eggs, the day seems to begin to unfold into something exciting. Today was no exception. Just as soon as the Nutella jar was empty, we loaded up the bus and took off for the Great Wall of China. There was definitely an air of enthusiasm in voices such as the one coming from Lucas Mills' mouth that is open more often than not. We have all seen pictures of the Wall before but the fact that we were approaching the structure itself right here in China provided a surreal atmosphere.
To enhance our experience, Dennis the tour guide again came through with all kinds of insight and history surrounding the Great Wall and spoke through the microphone throughout much of the two-hour bus ride. We arrived at our destination and collected our admission tickets and boarded another bus that took us to the bottom of a ski-style chair lift that would take us up the mountain to the Great Wall. For the next hour and a half, we wondered up and down the wall itself, gazing at the magnificent length and endlessness that we had only ever heard about. We went full on tourist mode and took every kind of picture you could think of. No photo album is complete without a Jacob Mills half faced selfie and there were plenty of those floating around. Along with selfies were group photos that consisted of friends doing fun things together. In what world do you get to go to one of the greatest wonders of the world with 23 of your 24 closest friends? While we are having the time of our lives, nobody has forgotten about Al Duncan who wasn't able to make the trip with us. Sweet Al who is always ready to crack a joke is definitely missed by the boys. Lucky enough for us, there are only a few short days before we will be reunited with our favourite second-year goalie.
As our time on the Wall dwindled down, we gathered ourselves back to where we started and lined up to toboggan down the mountain. This was an experience in and of itself. We sat in individual carts with speed controls that slid down the mountain on a winding track. Some were more cautious than others when it came to speed. For example, Brett Wur was holding up traffic much to the chagrin of Andrew Wheeler who got stuck behind him, and Lucas Hildebrand was an absolute speed maniac as he was breathing down my neck for much of the race down. Fortunately, we all made it down the mountain safely and soon enough, we were back on our bus and headed to our next adventure. Back by popular demand was the Pearl Market, where everyone was able to get their barter back on to pick up some things they weren't able to nab a couple days of ago. A good chunk of the afternoon was spent there and by the time we were on our way back to the hotel, we were spent.
Greeting us at the hotel were all the custom suits that were ordered on the second Day 2 back in Chengde. A fashion show of sorts emerged as all those who ordered a suit were eager to try them on. Everyone was looking sharp, very sharp, though probably not as sharp as the alarm will sound ringing in my ear tomorrow morning as we get set to leave Beijing and travel to Tianjin. Our last night in Beijing involved small groups dispersing as they pleased, so long as the groups included a minimum of three people. Some of us went across the street for some noodles while others tried their luck with KFC. In any case, we are excited to see what the city of Tianjin will bring to us and mindful of what we can bring to Tianjin. Stay tuned.