The Great Wall was...GREAT
Trip Start Mar 23, 2007
137Trip End Sep 15, 2008
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Famous last words as we headed towards the Great Wall of China. Even if it was built out with stalls of chachkis and hordes of tourists, this is the Great Wall and when in Beijing - you just gotta go.
We were off on a bus before the sun rose and fought our way through the famous Beijing morning rush hour. It was after all Monday, and National Day Holiday Week was over and it was business as usual. As we made our way into the countryside the sun was shining brightly and we couldn't believe our luck on the weather. It really was the perfect fall day - the air was crisp but not cold, the trees were starting their fall change giving us a great color display on the mountainsides as we whizzed past.
About 20 km from our destination we did hit a snag in the way of a police barricade. Unfortunately 2 busses collided and the road was closed. Our driver turned off the bus, lit up a cigarette and tossed in a bad movie on the overhead monitor to maintain order amongst the anxious tourists. At this point we were so close we could literally see the wall! I kept telling Ben let's just walk. But about a 1/3 of the way through the movie we started moving and were on our way once again.
We arrived in Jinshanling only an hour late and up the wall we went. There are many ways to "see" the wall, we chose to head to Jinshanling and hike the actual wall 10km to Simitai. It was a fantastic choice. China has made the tourists spots very accessible for all types of people, and this is a great thing. Several viewing spots allow you to drive up and simply take a cable car to the wall. Usually these are the most crowded and the most "renovated" and touristy. The hike from Jinshanling to Simitai was AWESOME. The hike itself is on the wall, and most of it on un-restored sections, so we truly got to hump along the crumbling steeps between the towers. And though there were other tourists there, it was virtually empty by Chinese standards. I blame our good luck on having the opportunity to go to the wall the day AFTER a Chinese Holiday
As we mentioned Beijing is just cram-packed; it's easy to whittle away the hours and days among the temples, markets and roaming the streets. But China is a BIG country and we finally said good-bye to Beijing and we were off on another train heading south to Xi'an.