Day 2: Conquering the Great Wall

Mutianyu section of The Great Wall

The Great Wall of China.   One of the great wonders of the world or just a really long, boring, pointless wall? Whatever your take is on The Great Wall, having seen it with my own eyes I can say that it is truly a magnificent sight and there is a reason it is named one of the great wonders of the world.   Since I was young, I imagined China as an exotic and faraway place.  To me, it was a place I would never have the chance to see; it only existed in movies and pictures in the textbooks.  Traveling to China was a faraway dream for me, but after coming to Korea I knew my dream of going to China was closer to becoming a reality.  Although I have traveled to many exotic and beautiful countries in Asia, China had remained number one on my list of places to go.  My last chance to go was this past February.  I never imagined that I would make it to Beijing, nonetheless be traveling alone, and in the winter, but knowing that another chance might not come for a while, I made it happen.  Finally making it to the Great Wall was symbolic of me achieving a lifelong goal.  Two years ago I would have never in my wildest dreams predicted that I would have made it this far in the world and in my own life.  The traveling I have done has helped me gain confidence and it has changed my outlook on life.  Making it to the Great Wall was the paramount point in my journey to Asia where everything came full circle for me.  Standing on the Great Wall, I felt like I had overcome many fears and insecurities in my life in order to make my dreams a reality.

On the second day of my trip to Beijing I booked a tour through my hostel to see the Mutianyu section of the Wall.  I chose this section for a couple reasons.  First, this section is not the most touristy, but it’s also not the most rugged section either.  It’s a nice balance between touristy and authentic. The location is very far from anything commercialized (although strangely enough there is a Subway sandwich shop at the base of the entrance), which makes it inconvenient for tour groups to bring many visitors.  There are no “tourist traps” along the way.  The part that makes it the most touristy are the chair lifts, cable car, and toboggan slide. On this section there are 22 watchtowers.  I opted to ride the 5 minute chairlift from watch towers 1-6.  Then I walked for about 2 hours to get to watchtower # 22 and it took me an hour to walk back to the chair lifts where I took a 5 minute toboggan slide down.  There is also an option to take a cable car further, but either way you are doing a lot of walking.  At the end of the section you have to walk up an extremely steep set of stairs.  Although the weather was freezing I kept nice and warm from all of the walking up and down the hilly terrain of the Wall. The Great Wall was everything I had hoped it would be and more.  Because of the proximity of the Wall to Beijing City (about 2 hours) plus the ridiculous traffic (add another hour), you need an entire day to see the Wall.  My day began at 7:30 a.m. and ended at 6:00 p.m. After that I was ready to call it a day. If I ever have another chance to go again in the future I would love to see it in the spring.  The Wall in the winter was very peaceful.  Most times I heard nothing else but the sound of the wind.  It was such a good feeling to be standing on something built hundreds of years ago and to go back in time to picture what it must have been like to build such a Great Wall.

Chair lift and first view of the Wall

Chair lift and first view of the Wall

Great Wall Toboggan Slide

Great Wall Tobaggan Slide