Waking up to see the Beijing city smog had lifted for ten first time in days and the temperature soaring to a high of minus 2 degrees C were the signals to confirm that today was the right day to finally make it to The Great Wall of China after our failed first journey some weeks earlier from Tianjin.
As you can imagine there are plenty of organized tours, legitimate and other, inexpensive and luxury but we had decided based on our research to travel independently.
It always seems easy on the internet reading the maps, train schedules, stations and tickets, but actually on the ground when you have lack of good signage or directions and have to rely on your sense of direction, the odd helpful Chinese person and interpreting crazy signs, there is a tremendous satisfaction when you get where you are meant to get.
In typical Chinese fashion passengers dash like Olympic sprinters for the train on the platform just to get a seat. So I figure if you are old or unfit you end up standing just to punish you for aging a little more.
So representing my GBR birthplace I entered this unofficial competition much to the delight of the people I could actually sprint passed and get to the train first. Alas, no medal for me just a good laugh and my body warming up.
The train to Badaling from Beijing North Railway Station took about 1,25 hours this being one of the best areas to see the wall in good condition. You can either take the arduous walk up the mountain or the cable car for a fee of 40 CYN. Cable car it was for us splashing out for once in extravagant fashion.
Walking out onto this amazing construction is quite a feeling as you realize the enormity of the incline of this wall as it moulds itself into the mountainside. It’s not very wide only about 5 meters, it’s the sheer steepness of the slopes and steps that make it unnerving as I clinger to the rail ocassionally. Getting away from the congestion the views are amazing I just find it awesome how this wall was built many years ago and was unified like China itself by Emperor Quin to keep out enemies of this vast nation.