While Mom was visiting me in Beijing we, of course, had to go The Great Wall of China. Really, when one goes to China, how can you miss that?
We were very fortunate that we didn't have to go the usual tourist route. The first weekend that Mom was here overlapped with my friend Amanda and her Dad's visit to Beijing. Amanda's dad was here on business, and his co-worker who lives in Beijing offered to take us on a private tour of The Wall.
First, the co-worker's personal driver came and picked us up, and drove us out to the side of a mountain. From there, we started hiking up a trail that was marked "do not enter." Promising start. After hiking up the train for a little under an hour, we came upon an unrestored section of the wall. I never realized this, but The Wall hasn't exactly stood the test of time. The section that all the tourists go to that is sturdy and impressive has been totally restored. We started our tour on an unrestored section that was still walkable, but had trees and plants growing on it, random pot holes, and seemed generally old.
After walking along the unrestored section for awhile, we came upon another sign that said "do not enter." After going around this sign, and climbing through a window, we were now on the restored section of The Wall! And we didn't even have to pay entry!
We walked along the restored section, amidst all the tourists, until we came to the exit. There are a few different ways to get off The Wall. One is to walk down, another is to take a gondola. The best way, in my opinion, is to tobbogan down!
The Wall, overall, was very impressive. It's incredible how high and thick it is, and that is follows the crest of the mountains it was built on. Parts of it are incredibly steep, and you really have to wonder how anyone managed to build such a thing, especialy in a time with no modern construction equipment. The only thing that would have made the whole experience better - some pandas.
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