It would have been rude and ridiculous for us not to visit The Great Wall after living in China for 10 months. With five days left before our visas ran out, we headed to Beijing for one final adventure.
Despite speaking to friends and reading many other travel blogs, we simply could not decide on whether we should take a tour to the wall or make our own way there. One favours seclusion and cost, the other convenience.
After asking each other 10 times in one day “What shall we do about The Great Wall?” We finally decided on a tour. We weren’t in Beijing for long and opted for the convenience factor. We went with the Leo hostel tour as we’d heard good things from a few different people.
We set off not long after 7.30am with a group of about 20 other people. We passed some of the tourist/rebuilt parts of the wall and I was worried that the minibus was going to stop there. It didn’t though; it kept going down a main road until it took a sharp left up a small mountain path. Shortly afterwards we were there. The sun was beating down, so I applied my factor 50 suncream (take care of your skin everyone!), put my practical-but-far-from-stylish hat on, and marvelled at the view.
We were at a part of the wall called Badaling, which is known for being touristy. However, this section was broken off from the rest of Badaling, meaning it was less restored and less busy. In fact, other than our tour group, I think I saw a maximum of seven other people there. It was perfect.
Our tour guide Stephen gave us a brief history of the wall and some tales the Chinese believe about it. After that, he told us that we have three hours. We were told to walk to the 7th tower, which was about 3km away, and to come back after that.
It was hard work. Parts of it felt more like climbing and my little legs struggled. The group of 20 soon separated into smaller groups, with those who were clearly fit and eager at the front and those who were slower (or perhaps just wanted to take more photos) at the back.
I was slow and steady. I wanted to take in the grandness of this wall. “The Great Wall” is a fitting name. The madness is that we were only on a tiny subset of the wall, and that was challenging enough. We could see it went on and on for miles.
I’m not surprised that it is a proud part of China’s history. It is one of most spectacular sights I’ve ever seen on my adventures, and my thoughts went out to those who built it, and those who died building it.
I love writing but some things which words can’t express. So here are some of me and Mitch’s photos instead.