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Published: December 18th 2011
Of course we had to go and visit it when in Beijing. We even thought of doing it when in Datong but the part of Great Wall over there is not apparently very impressive. The initial plan was to go twice to different parts of the wall to have a better feel of the place. One of the seven ancient wonders of the world, right?
The choice of places where you can visit Great Wall of China is quite big and it could be a little bit confusing what to do. Tours usually get to go to the Badaling section of the Wall and they even take you to the Ming Tombs on the way so kind of understand the package deal people take. So where is the catch? We thought that everybody would try to do it by local transport but surprisingly most of the travellers we met did go for the tour and the stories were some how amusing. Short time on the wall, some did not even visit the Tombs and of course factory of this and factory of that hahha
That reminded me of our visit in Cairo when we were on the only organised
trip we even took. Totally oblivious of the way 'tourism machine' works we were dragged from shop to shop in between seeing Giza and other sights. The factory was never really a factory but a shop and there was always someone who bought something. It is the same on the Badaling trip apparently where Jade factory does not really show any craftsmanship but heavy shelves of jewellery and furniture and silk factory is not really a factory as well.
We always knew we wanted to do it on our own and that we did not want to go to the tourist section of Badaling. What is the point of admiring this amazing place whilst being asked to spend our money on some useless stuff every 5 seconds. We only had to decide on which part of the wall we should see and of course how to get there. Fortunately, Anna (our hostess in Beijing) decided to go with us and we trusted the LP guide on the choice of the wall section. Despite the fact that she spoke a bit of Chinese we spend quite a long time figuring out where the bus was and we even agreed with
a taxi driver to go to the wall. This was just a huge misunderstanding and when Anna asked him if this is ok to come back after sunset he got really angry and change the price up. What was he expecting us to do? Go and come back without spending time at the wall?
We chose to go to Mutianyu as we were not sure if the Simatai section was already open (due to restoration work). We finally took a bus and then taxi to the wall. Wasn't as difficult as we initially though at all. We noticed straight away that there was no car park for buses which meant no tours and that there were no crowds. Of course there is a whole street just with souvenir stalls before you even manage to get to the ticket office but the persistence of the sellers was not as strong as in some other touristy places. 'No cable car?'- said very surprised women in a ticket office when we asked for the entrance fee. We immediately understood that the clibp up would not be overcrowded at all and we even decided to take the way up that would lead us
to the opposite side of where the cable car was going. The hike up was a good 25 min workout, mainly stairs and I really did not want to see stair for a while after that but it was quite warm, sunny and the views started to look very promising.
We got to the wall and we were amazed by... how empty it was. You can imagine smiles at our faces as we walked the 3 km up and down the wall, admiring views on the way and generally enjoying this masterpiece of defence architecture. We aimed to stay till the sun set to get the real feel of it. There were some people in the distance where the cable car was and from time to time someone would pass by us but that was it. We felt that the winter season travel to China paid off. The visit met our expectations totally and we did not really feel the need to go and see another part of the wall which was great ;-) Great day and great memories.
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