The Great Wall of China, one of the seven wonders of the World that was on my list of places to visit that I can now cross-off. What an amazing experience, there truly is no other way to describe the feeling once you are up there. It was my first time visiting Beijing, and contrary to what I have heard, I found the city to be rather clean (compared to other major cities in China like HongKong, Shanghai) – it sort of reminds me of a Capital city. Monuments and Buildings scarcely spread between streets from one another. The tourist map says “5-7 minute walk” but in reality it takes a good 15 minutes. The air pollution was probably the only thing that I found to be accurate even from my research, you can definitely smell and feel the smog and its inpurity. And like many developing Cities across South East Asia, the old versus new is quite contrasting in every way. Just like my outfit contrasting to the historical landmark, which is why I dubbed it the Great Wall Matrix.
But definitely a must-do and see when you are visiting Beijing. There’s several different areas of the Great Wall that you can visit from Beijing. The most well known spots are Badaling (most well known and most grand; also the most busy and a tourist trap), Huanghuacheng (on the water), Mutianyu (mountain scenery, less crowded), Jiankou (known for its steepness and least safest), Gubeikou (most places are deserted and unrestored), Jinshanling (very primitive and majestic; only recommended to experienced hikers), and Simatai (very well intact but very difficult hike; known for Wanjing Tower and Stairway to Heaven).
If you are planning on going, look up each of these places, check the distance from central Beijing and choose accordingly since each area offers something uniquely different from the next. The first, Badaling, is by far the most popular, the most grand and therefore the most crowded. The next choice on our list was the Mutianyu area of the Great Wall which was highly recommended by both guides and friends who had been there previously. It is definitely the less crowded and slightly more of a destitute area of the wall that I was looking for, for photos.
You have the option to trek up the mountain for a good hour to make it to the Wall or pay to take the cable car for a good $20US (approximately 80CNY), the path which you choose really puts things into perspective. It’s funny how even the simplest things we take for granted at times, like this cable car ride, while most of us would think it’s a no-brainer and pay the $20 to this date, even the Chinese tourists that visit will trek by foot because they would rather save that money for a hearty meal. And $20US will buy you plenty of decent meals in this part of the world. But it just makes you think about what $20 dollars would get for others that sometimes we tend to overlook.
It’s amazing when you try to bask-in all the scenery and the stretch of the wall, no matter how far you walk, you don’t really see an end to this path. Can you believe that the entire Great Wall structure spans some 5,500 miles (that’s 8,850 kilometers) from the Korean border west into the Gobi desert. Standing on top and walking some distance makes you really feel a part of the 2000 years of history.
While others were in their hiking gear with backpacks and runners, I didn’t bother, I wanted my memories in pictures to be memorable in my own way. So I packed lightly and opted for the most easiest (minimal effort) ways in getting to the wall. I definitely looked out of place, but there is no rule on how-to-dress when visiting the Great Wall – it was not as though I was climbing Mount Fiji or something.
The one thing I took advantage of was the change in season, since Singapore is at a constant 29 degrees therefor layering is not really an option.
I got a lot of comments of this photo, and how it looks like I tele-ported from the set of Matrix to the Great Wall! And that’s fine. I’ll take Matrix over Back-packer any day. LOL
Have you already been, or are you planning on any trips to these parts of the world? If so, what were some of your most memorable places or looking forward to visit?
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