Lewis Tuthill is a new First Leap teacher from London who just moved to Beijing a few weeks ago. After graduating from Cambridge University with a French and Spanish degree in June 2019, he decided he wanted to do something completely different - teaching abroad in China seemed like the perfect opportunity to travel and do more.
Since Lewis has been in Beijing, he’s done many things, including visiting the iconic Great Wall of China! Check out his adventures there and other places in Beijing.
I arrived nearly two weeks ago – it’s been a bit of a whirlwind. One thing that has really surprised me is how fascinated some Chinese people are by foreigners! Even in Beijing, people love to stare or even ask for photos. It’s a shock at first but it’s quite funny when you spot someone trying to sneak a photo of you on the subway.
I’ve been surprised actually; I don’t know why but I was expecting training to be lots of lectures, videos and tests, but it’s so interactive, and everyone at First Leap training is really supportive of each other.
Which Section of the Great Wall to Visit: We went to Mutianyu; it’s not too far, and you can go back down on a toboggan! It’s probably not the most ‘authentic’ experience of the Great Wall, but I would still definitely recommend it.
Hire a Private Car: I went with three other teachers, and we used a private hire car that picked us up from the hotel and drove us to the wall, which was about 1 hour and 15 mins away. The driver then waited in the car park until we came back about five hours later! It was really convenient and not that expensive, only 150 RMB each.
Go Early: Make sure you go early! We left at 7am, which meant we arrived at about 8:30am, and managed to explore and get lots of photos before it filled up with tourists. By the time we headed for the slide down, it was absolutely packed.
Recommended Time: It was an amazing experience; I never thought I’d set foot on the Great Wall, let alone slide down it! I’d recommend at least two hours for a visit there. We were there for nearly five, but I guess it depends on you – as I’m staying in Beijing, I’ll probably go back, but the others might not, so they wanted to stay for as long as possible.
I also visited the Lama Temple, but since I’m staying in Beijing, I’m not in a rush to see all the tourist attractions straight away – instead I’ve just been exploring, trying to find good spots for food, drinks, shopping etc.
I’m really looking forward to visiting the people I’ve met in their different cities after training finishes and exploring more of China. I also want to see the Avatar mountains in Zhangjiajie and the pandas in Chengdu!
Try to find the right balance between researching life in China and keeping an open mind – it’s a big culture shock so it’s good to be prepared, but some things aren’t always as people say online.
Follow Lewis on Instagram for more adventures in China!