A beautiful, clear day on the Great Wall

 By Ben Briggs, Wendy Wu Tours

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The Great Wall of ChinaIn life, there are small days and big days…today was most certainly a big day. It’s not every day you get to go to the Great Wall of China! Excited doesn’t really cover it.

We get picked up at 8am by our local guide, Lee and taken to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall. It’s about 1.5 hours drive from the city and is one of the original sections of the wall.

After a short cable ride to section 14 of the wall, through the chestnut trees, we were greeted by a panorama to rival anything else I had seen. What’s more, the weather gods had been very kind to us as the skies were blue, the sun was shining and a light dusting of snow and ice was sparkling along the cobblestones. They say that a life was lost for every stone laid during the construction of the wall, which was a sobering thought as we climbed the 450 steps to Tower 23. It would certainly have been a daunting sight for any would be invader.

The weather was as cold, crisp and dry and although the temperature gauge read just 1 degree, the warm sun certainly made up for it. There were also very few people there, but for a smattering of American and Kiwi accents,  we would have had the place to ourselves.

Bird's Nest National Stadium, BeijingYou could easily fill an entire memory card with photos of the Wall. There are enough screensaver moments to fill a thousand computer screens. A truly magical place that sits comfortably at the top of my list of places visited.

We passed by the Birds Nest Olympic Stadium on our way to the Summer Palace for a quick photo. It certainly lived up to its name. I was impressed.

We didn’t have that long at the Summer Palace but it seemed to be a peaceful place that surrounded a beautiful lake. Our guide provided great insights into the history of the Palace and the significance of each temple and statue.

Summer Palace, BeijingPeking duck dinner tonight was very good. It was sliced at the table which was a nice touch.

Lee was our guide for the day.  She greeted us in the hotel lobby with a big smile, munching on a very western breakfast of McDonalds and take away coffee. She has spent the last 10 years in Beijing but is originally from the north west of China, in Jilin Province, where the temperature gets as low as -40 during the winter. She said that was the main reason she left.

Interesting fact of the day

In order to cut down on the number of cars on the road, (traffic in Beijing is a real problem) when you buy a car, it has a number attached to it. On certain days of the week, only cars with a certain number are allowed on the roads. If your number isn’t up then you have to take the subway or bus to work. I couldn’t help thinking if the government tried this at home, they would have a revolt on their hands.

Memorable Moment

It has to be climbing the Great Wall, something I’ll never forget.

Silver Travel advisor recommends Wendy Wu Tours
 

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  • ESW
    over 6 years ago
    China is an incredible place. We were lucky enough to spend a month in China in 2008 travelling from Beijing across China to Kashgar, a truly epic journey. There were so many highlights from the Forbidden city to the Terra Cotta warriers to the Magao Caves, but it is the sight of the Great wall snaking across the landscape which sticks in the memory. I had always thought Hadrian's Wall was impressive until I saw this... it makes it look like a children's toy!
    For anyone who is interested my report (in pre Silver Travel Days) is here:
    http://www.slowtrav.com/tr/tripreport.asp?tripid=1779&index=5