on June 15, 2010
We were lucky enough to visit the Great Wall of China just north of Beijing City during our stay. It was a bitterly cold day with the temperature not rising above - 6 degrees celcius so it was absolutely freezing. Although it was cold the low temperature meant that the air was nowhere near as polluted as it can be in Beijing and as the sun was out we got some amazing views as we walked up.We visited a section of the wall at Badaling which is one that you can walk up in about an hour. It is reached either on a day trip (China Travel Service or Dragonbus) or by bus. There is an entrance fee of 40 yen in the winter and 45 yen in the summer. I would definitely recommend wearing walking shoes when you do this. As we did it in winter there were lots of patches of ice on the steps making it slippery but this section of the wall was built in the Ming Dynasty 1300 - 1600 so is fairly old. That said, it is well maintained and is safe to walk.The upwards walk features track and steps (lots of them) you will need to be fairly fit to make it up there. I am not sure that I could have done it in 40 degree heat with smog but had no problem in winter. The walk takes you up through 4 gun turrets - the places where troops would have had to sit waiting for enemies to attack. Each of these has the most amazing views of the surrounding area. Of course the Chinese being great builders and warriers built this to protect but also so that they could be warned of any attack. You can see for many miles so no army would have attacked with the element of surprise. Getting up to the top is a special experience. As we walked in January there were only a few tourists there and only one other couple made it up with us. Of course we took photos of each other up the top!The views from the top are stunning and you can see great lengths of the wall in all directions stretching north to south. It makes you appreciate that this is truly one of the great wonders of the world!Coming down is again a walk that needs to be taken with care - the steps are slippery and, truth be told I found it harder on the legs coming down than going up!The walk is punctuated by lovely warning signs such as " lightening strikes may stop pacemaker" three quarters of the way up. Luckily it was a clear day and neither hubby or I wear a pacemaker but we were warned. This is an experience not to be missed and one that would definitely inspire me to try and trek the great wall one day - a taster which will inspire you to eat the whole dish!
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