One of the greatest work of man in a natural environment is the Great Wall of China. The Great Wall of China is located in Beijing, China. Everything that you read and see on television and print media is nothing compared to really being there. I had the great opportunity to explore China with a group of graduate students from Concordia University in St. Paul. What a great experience! One of the places we visited - and awed at - was the Great Wall of China.
Because it is huge, covering across the Northern part of China from the ocean, to the desert area of the region in the west. According to our travel guide, "Sunny", the Great Wall reaches even some areas in Russia. And - that is HUGE! Well, we saw it when we were there; well, not really - because you will not see everything. Our tour guide decided that we start (and end) our tour of the Great Wall from the area closes to Beijing Central: The Great Wall at Badaling.
This area is only about 43 miles (or 70 kilometers) from downtown Beijing, making it probably the most visited area of the Great Wall for tourists who have short time to visit. Badaling Great Wall can be explored in just a few hours, great for those who have limited time. The short time we were there was not enough for me, though, and I really want to go again, and explore the other farther areas of the Great Wall.
The Great Wall, of course! When you enter Badaling, you will be greeted by stores, souvenir shops, hotels, and the like. Great, because my cell phone did not work for taking pictures, and my camera ran out of battery when we were in Shanghai. We took the overnight train from Shanghai to Beijing,and there was not enough time to buy all those necessities. Anyway, when you enter the area, you have a choice to make: go follow the large crowd on the right side (that's where most of the people go - because, according to Sunny, it is easier to climb). Well, with all the people climbing the wall (you really don't climb the wall literally; you will be walking the narrow "road" or "hallway", officially called "passes", between the walls) - I decided to go to the left side. There were fewer people on that side. When I reached the first tower, I was surprised to see some of my more adventurous classmates already at the tower. They were walking back from the farther tower (they really said it is "challenging). But anyway, the tower where we met had a great view, so I stayed there and took pictures. The cherry blossoms and orange blossoms were in bloom and since there were very few leaves on the trees, the view of the surrounding communities is so wide and open.
After much picture taking, talking to people, mostly tourists, and decided to to the side that was crowded. Well, it was still crowded. I thought because of the crowd, it was a more challenging climb. Too many people to avoid, some of the bricks on the walkways were tripping some people (OK - forget the minor challenges). As I was walking, I was reading the historical inscription at some points. I learned that there were so many people who died building the Great Wall. The purpose of course, of the Great Wall, was to protect China from intruders and conquerors from other countries. You can learn more about the history of the Great Wall at the China Great Wall Museum.
The Great Wall of Jinshanling
Badaling Great Wallis the closest - but there are other scenic and challenging far from downtown Great Wall areas where you can go. The Great Wall of Jinshanling and Simatai are great for steep passes between watchtowers. Don't worry if you get real tired, you can always stop and go back, but, chances are, you will not go back for you will be curious and continue exploring the Great Wall. It seems like there is no ending. If you want to explore the farthest passes, be sure to have water with you. It can be a very strenuous walk., Because of this reason that this Wall is great for challenging hikes.
If you are a four-seasons lover, the Great Wall of Mutianyu offers such a great view of the different colors of the season. Great place to go in the Fall if you are in Beijing. Most of the trees at this Wall turn orange during the Fall season.
No need to worry if you haven't finished the Wall in one day. You can always stay at the hotels and hostels around the area. The Commune by the Great Wall, a luxury hotel accommodation (with spa) , and a friendly inexpensive hostel (Great Wall Box House) are nearby. The choice is yours.
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