August 10, 2009

Great Wall Beach Party

The Great Wall Beach Party is an annual event held in Shanhaiguan, the point at which the monumental structure meets the sea. With the Great Wall serving as an imposing backdrop, the beach is converted into a playground for drunken revelers. Busloads of fickle foreigners are transported to the site at night and then carted off back to Beijing in the morning. Three friends and I wanted to explore the area properly, with the party serving as a bonus attraction. We caught a train at dawn from Beijing.

By the time we arrived at the site of the beach party we were quite sleepy, having woken up at 5am to catch the train. After a few false starts that involved rain, overweight women, and sleeping in hotel lobbies, we walked over to a sandbar from where we could both see and hear the party. Soon we were fast asleep. Around 2 am it became quite chilly. Half of our group fled to the safety of a hotel room, while the other fellow and I retired to the comfort of the hotel lobby for a few hours before walking back to the beach at 4 am to catch the sunrise. We finally made it to the party as it was on its last legs. After 15 minutes, we were napping on the beach again until 6 am. We then strolled to the Great Wall.

“Never be the first to arrive at a party or the last to go home and never, never be both.”
- David Brown