Great Wall, Beijing
Lourdes and the Pyramids: I tell about the crowds, the people there!
I took a bus in Beijing (bus N° 919, for 12 Y for the 70km to the great wall; by taxi it is 250Y. . . ) and arrived at the Great wall (great wall of Ba Da Ling part) one and a half hour later. I will not write and describe a lot as this place seem one of the most visited places on the planet; looking at all the people I almost decided to return to Beijing on the spot! Well I kept there, paid entrance fee, and went to visit the wall.
All what you can see is the renovated part of the wall, and attractions (they did not attract me! I was not in the mood for that), museums and other facilities.
Many people and noise, music: there was music, loudspeakers, etc. . . and a display on a hill for the future Olympics in Beijing.
I went up on the left side, where it seemed a bit more quiet, and after walking for 10mn, the crowds became looser, less people and I could begin to breathe and look quietly and the landscape and at the wall.
I must say, I do not like the renovated things which look too new, too clean, and the renovated part of the great wall is like that.
Many vendors (souvenirs, hats, false old coins (may be true coins from the Ming or other imperial era) spoil the place too, but at the end I did not care of them. The only interesting thing on the wall was to look at the landscape, look at this wall in the mountain, turning and climbing looking like a giant snake sometimes.
Look at my off the beaten path tip about the wall to know what can be much more interesting to do at the wall!
To get there:Bus, 919
Tour operators organise buses there.
Fondest memory: Main picture:Do you see the crowds on the wall? You understand what I mean with Mourdes, the Pyramids, and why I almost returned to Beijing?
Picture 2:This wall looks too clean, too new, no? I was not expecting to foind something like that here.Most beautiful is the landscape with the wall running on the mountains.
Picture 3: At the entrance of the Ba Da Ling part of the Great Wall; maps and explanations for what to do and where.For the interested people there seems a lot to do, but as already written, not in the crowds for me.
Picture 4: People everywhere, big ads on the hill (here for the Olympic games), and you do not hear the loudspeakers with supermarket music . . .
Picture 5: Ah, and here the vendors near the entrance of the Ba DaLing area; they are almost aggressive, want to sell you absolutely something if you happen just to have a glimpse at their things; one grabbed my arm and I almost lost patience, which in China would not at all have had a good effect; just try to keep cool with these people, they try to do their job.
Mutianyu Wall is one of the favourite sections of the wall. You will enjoy the view without fear of falling down. The steps are not very high or steep. If you will walk it with an old or young companion, you won't have to be extremely careful with your steps. Still, I recommend that you take the cable car so you will enjoy climbing up and down the Great Wall. A one-way ticket costs 50 RMB but it is worth it. You will get to see a great view of the wall as the cable car moves up/down. And when you reach the platform, you will have the energy to explore the Great Wall itself.
I highly recommend Janet, my Tour Guide. She knows Mutianyu Wall by heart. Janet speaks English very well, has a sense of humour and will help make your trip unforgettable. You may reach her at 13011169462, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Fondest memory: My fondest memories of my trip to the Mutianyu Great Wall aside from the great walk and fantastic views: a) I and my Tour Guide rode in the cable car which has a notice written down "President Clinton was in this cable car" or something like that, b) I and my Tour Guide happily posed together only to find out that the tourist who took our photo did not include the Great Wall as a background. We ended up laughing so hard as we began to climb up the Great Wall.
The Great Wall is truly amazing... It is situated out among the gorgeous scenery of the mountains... You cannot believe how huge it is and the way it turns and twists around... This photo illustrates the incredible steepness that it has at some places...!
The two ladies pictured are scientists from the famed Mayo Clinic who were part of my tour group...
See the Great Wall (the 10.000 lees dragoon). The closest part from Beijing is located in Badaling at 80 Km North-West. It has been restored to greet the tourists and there is a paying entrance (30 Yuans). It looks like to the Wall existing during the Ming dynasty (14° Century). Open : 8AM to 8PM.
Fondest memory: One says it is the only human work which can be seen from the Moon. Others say it is wrong. The total length of the Wall is 6700 Km. It is like our 'Ligne Maginot', it never stops an invasion.
Favorite thing: The Great Wall is a pretty important tourist spot. You might want to pick a better day than I did to go!! It was really cold when I went. (way below freezing) and the wind was blowing about 30 mph! And it was dusty/foggy too. I had hoped to get some nice panoramic pictures of the wall but that didn't happen. I wasn't able to see much more then 100 feet in any direction!!I should have gone back another day but I was running out of time. I only had 7 days left on my 30 day visa and still wanted to go to Shanghai and take the Ferry boat back to Hong Kong.
So many landmarks....nowhere are their so many examples of great human achievement but here..the Great Wall , Tara Cotta Soldiers...The Forbidden City
Fondest memory: For me seeing the Great Wall for the first and most likely the last time will always be my fondest memory....there are so many greats ...but if I have to choose this is it!!
The towers of Jiankou east are very much is a state of disrepair. I happen to like it this way. These towers were lookouts on watch for an approaching enemy. They were built to defend a country and they have last the test of time, weather and even earthquakes.
The entrances into the towers vary from arched doorways to stairs descending into a room. Because of the vegetation on this section of the wall it is difficult to get a full view of the towers. They are also not very high in this area. The interior is typically an intersection of three passageways. There is one main passageway leading in and out of the tower, while the other passageways lead to arched windows with great views of the countryside and mountains off in the distance. Some of the towers have a small courtyard inside and no passageways.
Not knowing at the time how long of a hike I had, I did not spend much time at each tower. If I hike this section again, I will definitely take more time to admire and explore.
Climb on the stairs of the Great Wall in Badaling. The steps have not the same hight, one is quickly exhausted. Other parts of the path are slopings. Do not forget good shoes when you will be there.
Fondest memory: On the path of the Great Wall, there are a lot of sellers. It is difficult to escape because they use to walk by the stairs and they go faster than you. Tiring to climb but with a seller behind saying 'How much. How much ?' because he wants to bargain its stuff... it is the dark side of the attraction.
No need to introduce this wonder but here is a short history.
It is a huge construction which took over 1000 years to build. It was China´s Emperor Qijn Shihuang, who started the work 2500 years ago. The purpose was to keep out barbarians from the north. In the end barbarians just went around it and got in anyway.
The wall is more than 3000 miles (5.000KM) long, even if at the oldest sections it has crumbled down. The views of the snaking walls with watch towers are something not to be missed nor soon forgotten!
You don´t need to go to space or upper levels of atmosphere, just climb it; the easiest way to visit The Great Wall is to go by car or take a tourist bus from Beijing Railway Station to Badaling.
It is believed that it's the only man-made structure visible from space...
...but actually it is NOT true!
Zhengbei Tower is the first tower you arrive at when exiting the woods trail fro Xizhazi Village. You really can't see this tower until the last minute. Once there, a ladder leans against a platform that you can climb. On top of the platform you can see amazing view of the Great Wall to the west. It is hard to describe the view. In the immediate foreground you see the Wall and several watch towers along the jagged ridge. In the distance the wall continues to the right along a ridge. I wanted nothing more that to hike this section to the west! However, my plan was to through hike to Mutianyu where my ride would be waiting.
Also atop the platform is another ladder leading into the tower. However, this is guarded by an elderly lady from the village. She sits on the next ladder and asked 5 RMB to proceed to the east. None of my research warned me of this so maybe it is something new. Fortunately I had a 10 RMB note with me. I handed it to the women and she just looked at me as if expecting to keep the change. I just stuck out my hand and she reluctantly gave me 5 RMB back.
The tower is in very good condition. You have to go through the tower to continue east. Through the tower you can see the rugged wall laid out in front of you.
From the Zhengbei Tower, look west (the direction you are facing when ascending the ladder) and you will see an amazing view of the Great Wall. The tower to the west called Eagle Flies Facing Upward and you can see before the the Sky Stair and how steep they are.
This is also an excellent place to watch sunrise or sunset. However, with sunset, be sure to have a guide or a headlamp to find your way back down.
Tower 23 is the western most point of the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall. I approached this tower from the west and the end of the Jiankou section of the Great Wall. From Jiankou, this is the start of the reconstructed Mutianyu. With this reconstruction comes the crowds of tourist. However, Tower 23 sees the least amount of people because the access from Mutianyu entrance is extremely steep. While the walking is unobstructed, you can't change the steepness and this deters people from going all the way to the end.
At the tower is a stand selling drinks, snacks and some souvenirs. The attendant is not shy in trying in trying to sell you something. Actually the first words out of her mouth was "cold beer."
I took a break here but no beer after my hike from Zhengbei Tower. I still had a long way to go to Tower 10 and the decent to the entrance of Mutianyu.
I spent 3 days in Beijing and could visit almost every important place. If you'll be there for a day or so, I recommend you to visit the Great Wall and the Forbidden City at least
Fondest memory: I have great memories from this place, it was so much more of what I expected it to be. Walking on the Great Wall and through the Forbidden City were the most amazing experiences I took home. Definitely a place to visit before you die
I met Alvin thru the recommendation of another VTer and thank goodness for that decision to hire him. My Beijing trip became one of my most memorable jaunts since I was bitten by the travel bug in 1989. So, do yourself a favor and get the best tour guide because it will become the deciding factor between a so-so trip to a truly fabulous one.
Alvin is a gem. He is:
1. Proactive (Prior to the tour, he always asks what kind of food we want for the day)
2. Sensitive (He rushed to ask GM Beijing if we can use their ladies room)
3. Helpful (He asked his taxi driver friend if he can ferry us to the airport instead of us looking for cabs at night, he bargained on my behalf, he carried our camera stuff while providing historical details)
Fondest memory: The Wall and its history is truly majestic.
Alvin whispered that he saw a Hollywood actor in one of the Wall's guard tower and it turned out to be Nicolas Cage. So, photo opportunity galore! Thanks Alvin.
See the Great Wall. The Wall was built as a deterrent to foreign invaders, but was not very successful as they just bribed their way in! There is a Chinese saying, You are not a man (woman or hero) until you have climbed the Great Wall. We went to the Badaling section, it felt like at least half the population in China was on the Wall that day. The steps are various sizes, there is no shade, and the pushing crowd makes it a bit dangerous. As you will see when you get there – the Great Wall cannot be seen from the moon, the streets of Beijing are a number of times wider than the Wall! It can be seen from outer space with binoculars, you can do your own investigation if you don?ft want to believe me. Knowing I was on the Wall was an awesome feeling and after getting down safely and amazing high.
Fondest memory: I bought a I glimbed the Great Wall T-shirt (not a misprint - check that spelling closely!). Even now back in Japan, I can vividly conjure up the Wall snaking around the mountain like a Dragon.