If you’re like me (and let’s face it, almost anyone with a craving for travel), The Great Wall of China, as one of the worlds most iconic travel sites is undoubtedly on your travel ‘wish list’. It’s definitely up there with the likes of the Eiffel Tower, the Pyramids of Egypt or the Taj Mahal, and although I’d never really thought of China as a destination that I’d be personally NEED to visit, I have always wanted to see the Great Wall of China.
I’m lucky enough to have visited China twice now, and after a failed attempt of experiencing the wall in all it’s glory, due to heavy rain and fog (as below), I was hopeful that on my return journey this year, I’d be able to witness the iconic wall that I’d seen in so many images. That seemingly never ending stone structure, snaking it’s way up and over the mountainous terrain, and stretching out across the horizon and fading off into the distance.
After flying into Beijing during a battering rain storm with heavy fog hovering over the city, reminiscent of the weather from the year before, i was doubtful ….but on the morning that we were set to visit the wall, I awoke with the kind excitement usually reserved for a 4yr old on Christmas morning. The weather turned itself ON and it was a picture perfect day in Beijing! YEW
With anticipation and expectation of what was to be an amazing day of exploring the Jinshanling section of the Great Wall of China, we headed off to our destination which was about 2 hrs outside of Beijing. Being one of the farthest sections of the wall, accessible in a day trip from Beijing, it almost guarantees that you’ll beat the crowds who tend to stick to sections such as Badaling and Mutianyu.
This section of the wall is one of the most well preserved and stretches for more than 10 kilometres, and has over 60 watch towers. It links with another section of the wall called Simatai, which is made up of unrestored original wall, that has been well-preserved with a good range of architecture. Every part is at least 400 years old. The mountains at Simatai are particularly steep, offering great views, but the hiking is a little more challenging.
After the short (but steep) hike up onto the wall it was the view (and not the climbing) that managed to take my breath away, and wandering along the wall we soon found ourselves alone on many of the sections. This led to many ‘oh my gosh’ moments, and we were thankful that we have been recommended such a remote section of the wall.
It truly was one of those ‘pinch me, I’m dreaming’ travel moments, where I did truly feel lucky to be alive, and that I was able to experience such a wonder in person. It’s hard to fathom that this structure was once over 10,000 km long, but as it stretched out before me to the horizon, you could certainly start to envision it.
We spent about 2hrs on the wall, climbing up to, and through each of the watch towers, making sure that we took some time to pause and take it all in.
We completed our exploration by dining in a local Chinese cafe at the base of the wall, where we indulged in local delicacies of dumplings, stir fries and rice… washed down with a well deserved local beer.
If you ever have the chance to visit China (and i suggest that you all add it to your list), do yourself a favour and take the road less travelled. Get out of Beijing, and explore the more remote sections of the wall, and enlist the use of a guide, as I can assure you they’ll help you get more out of your visit.
I organised our tour through InterAsia, who are an Australian based supplier. They were established in 1989, initially as a China niche tour operator, but have now gradually expanded to include destinations spanning most of Asia. Depending on your style of travel I can tailor make something to suit you perfectly, so just let me know if this is something i can help you with.
Where did i stay? I was super spoiled and was lucky enough to be able to experience the breathtaking Aman at Summer Palace, Beijing. Stay tuned for my post all about it, but for a sneak peak.. check out their site: http://www.amanresorts.com/amanatsummerpalace/home.aspx
Thanks for reading, and i hope my post has inspired you to get out and explore this amazing world of ours!