December 22, 2011 2 Comments
The Great Wall of China stretches across northern China. A wall that is over 6,000 kilometres long. In some parts it’s 9 metres wide and 8 metres high. Try to picture that in your mind…
The wall climbs up steep mountainous peaks where you need both hands and feet to climb up the large stone blocks. It slopes up and down, weaves in long curves, with some parts in total disrepair while others have freshly relaid bricks. Every few hundred metres there are large towers, which would house the troops stationed there. Today they each house someone offering you an over-priced can of coke!
It almost seems unbelievable when visiting the Great Wall, the magnificance of it, the human endeavor that built it.
We visited it from Beijing and there are a few tours to pick from, basically close by or far away: Badaling or Jinshanling. We picked Jinshanling, the far away option with a very early coach pick-up and late drop off. A long day but if you’re going to visit one of the most incredible man-made wonders on Earth you might as well get up a bit early to see the best of it.
The reason we picked Jinshanling was because we wanted to escape the tourist crowds and it’s the quieter option. Even the brochure photos of Badaling are over-flowing with people on the wall.
The coach had around 25 people on it and took 3 hours to drive out to Jinshanling. Once there you can either walk up the steep slope to the wall (this part of the wall is literally on the top of a mountain range) or take a cable car (at extra cost). You then have 3 hours to walk along the wall as far as you like – or rather up to a certain tower that is the end of the tourist section – and back again. Walking at our own pace meant the crowds thinned out and we had large sections of wall to ourselves. It was one of the best hikes we’ve ever experienced.
Seeing the wall snake into the distance for mile upon mile you realise what an amazing achievement it was to build such a mammoth and imposing structure. It was built, re-built and added to over 2,000 years, up to the 16th century. Goodness knows how many people lost their lives in the super-human effort to complete it.
It was such a fantastic day working up a sweat trekking along The Great Wall that we would say it’s worth coming to Beijing just to experience it.
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