"Ba Da Ling segment"
Chinese have a say 'One cannot be a hero until one climbs up to the great wall'.
The most known part of the Great Wall is considered to start from Shan Hai Guan Pass in the east to Jia Yu Guan Pass to the west, which make it 5,000 KMs.
There are also many small pieces of similar walls in other parts of China.
Ba Da Ling segments, together with Mu Tian Yu, is the usual tourist attractions in Beijing for the great wall. However, if one is interested in more 'original' wall, one needs to go to Si Mai Tai or Jian Shan Ling or other segments farther away from Beijing (2+ hours drive from downtown).
It will take only 45 minutes via a freeway to Ba Da Ling segment. Be sure to get there early, ahead of the crowds. We got there right before 8:00 AM when it "opened". One needs to pay an admission fee first. I think foreigners are still paying a bit higher fee than Chinese.
This is a view of the south 4 towers at the Ba Da Ling segment.
"Wall - Easy Walk"
Some parts of the wall are relatively less hilly, easy to walk along.
"Wall - Steep"
Other parts could be very steep, but with hand rails, such as shown here. More parts are much steeper.
The original wall was built in pieces by many little kingdoms then eventually linked together. After 2,000+ years, many parts of the wall were deteriorated and simply abandoned.
It would not be as easy a task as many travelers thought when they have the ambition to walk along the whole wall: 5,000 km long. Yes a UK couple did ride horses and went throught the 'entire' wall. But for doing this, one needs to have LOT of money to get the supplies along the way from local governments etc.
Chinese like to dress up when they go out for vacation (so that they can have their beautiful photos taken), climbing up and down at the great wall is no exception.
I personally do not think wearing such high heels at the great wall is anything near fashion or cool. While wearing pantihose in such a way could be considered 'creative', a pair of comfortable shoes absolutely made her look much wiser than the other one.
Climbing up the great wall is not an easy task for many people, being them unfit, elderly, or physically challenged (PC word?) or whatever.
Even for normal people, climbing on this segment will require all four limbs.
However, if you still want to be a hero without making much effort, a cable car is available (shown in the background).
I do not understand why this part is blocked: the wall simply ends in front of a giant rock.
Although I could have tried to slide down from the tower above (previous photo) to this path, I was not brave enough to give it a try.
Cellular phone is very popular a thing in China. Partly because it is so much easier and cheaper to have a cellular phone than a phone line installed at each household. Further, the most important part, besides convenience, many Chinese consider having a cellular phone a kind of fashion or prestige/class: One has to constantly update to most recent cool models.
This heroine is using her Ericsson phone calling her friends afar or not far, 'Hey, I am calling you from the great wall!'
Mission completed! Congrats to you to become a hero, a virtual one! :D
NO! None of the girls in any of the photos you have seen was me!
"Wall Snaking along the mountain"
"Wave of the Wall"
Observations towers are located every 100 meters (need to check the accuracy!) apart. In the ancient times, once the guards on one observation tower found enemy approaching to the border (the wall) from north (Mongolia possibly), they would set fire to notify the nearby observation towers, so that everyone could be prepared.
An observation tower usually has at least two floors, the soldiers sleept on the lower floor, while watching the potential invaders from above.
The paths to the upper floor are not always obvious to tourists, so if you are interested in climbing to the top floor, you have to search a wee bit.
View from outside
"Observation Tower - Path on lower floor"
And yes, these are the paths you have to work through to find the path to the upper floor. They look like a small maze (perhaps built so intentionally).
Gun holes are of various shapes. Since this segment of the Great Wall was renovated as new, I am not sure if the star-shaped holes were original.
Please do NOT carve your name or visiting dates on the wall as many other did, shown in this photo.
View from below and outside
"View through a window"
You can see a radio tower afar through the window.
The Ba Da Ling area is not rich in soil nor water. It was mostly a baring rocky area. It took a forest farm decades to dig holes in the really hard rocks, brought water (sometimes carried over by human being), to grow those trees.
You can see four observations towers through this window.