Hawkers on Jinshanling Great Wall
We started out taking the cable car up to the Jinshanling Great wall. The only other people at the wall at this time in the morning were the hawkers. Hawkers are the local villagers and farmers that climb up to the Wall and attempt to sell their tourist goods. This can range from books, to cold water to beer and postcards. I must admit, the views were amazing, but having hawkers glued to you was about enough to give you trekking rage!
They pretty much forced themselves upon you whether you wanted them there or not. I think their sales strategy was that you would pay them to leave you alone…which I suppose was rather effective! They followed you…just a few steps behind – nimbly jumping down steps and running circles around you reminding you to ‘be careful’ with every step. Their English consisted of “Please buy from me” and ‘be careful”.
I’ve been traveling long enough to know that this is just how things work in the world of tourism – people try to sell you things any way they can. So, when we had two hawkers attach themselves to us, I was prepared to deal with it. We were like big dollar signs to them – plus, since my dad was older they wrongly assumed that he would need assistance up and down the steep inclines and crumbling stairs. After a while though, I did try my best to communicate that we wanted to walk alone and eventually they stayed about 100 ft. away from us and allowed us to walk in solitude. It was like having a restraining order on a stalker!
The walk was very different from the previous day. It was definitely more of a trek than a walk. The wall was crumbling and every step had to be planned out. The towers on the wall originally existed for a way to send smoke signals of an impending Mongol attack as well as a place to store weapons; however now they were crumbling down. The modern day uses for the towers seemed to be for hawkers to sell their goods (there was even a guy selling opium there!), and they were a perfect place to stop and rest before moving on to the next steep climb! We decided to pass on the Opium, yet it might have made my knees feel better.
After 2 hours of hiking, we arrived at the Simatai ‘ticket booth’ (basically a lady standing in the doorway asking for a ticket or money). We congratulated ourselves for making it and then we had to turn around and face the same route back. The thought of descending down that steep, crumbling route was rather terrifying to me.
We took our time descending back to the cable car – with our stalkers…I mean hawkers still dutifully following us 100 ft. away. Finally at the end I sat down with them and bought a book from them – it was cheap and they actually did leave us alone most of the time as I had requested…so I suppose everyone got what they wanted. It’s weird to pay people though for staying away from you…but that’s tourism sometimes. Their stamina in following you is as infuriating as it is impressive.