Friday, November 28, 2008

The Great Wall

We got lucky. The lousy weather the day before had turned, during the night, into a rain storm with strong winds that blew the clouds away. Our day for the Great Wall dawned chillier but clear and sunny.

There are several places of the Great Wall that are within driving distance of Beijing. The most restored and most visited is the section at Badaling which is where we were headed.

I knew this area was built up with hotels and shops. There was even a rumor about a Starbucks on top of the Great Wall (not so). And I had heard stories about not even being able to get to the Wall without being chased by vendors selling things like silk scarfs. Also not so.

Our bus let us off by one of the hotels and we had to walk (uphill) from there. Past a sign displaying The Great Wall, there were very few vendors. We reached a plaza and waited while David bought the tickets. Our first stop after going through the entryway was a group picture, available for purchase, of course. (We did decide to buy it as a souvenier of our visit.)


And THEN we had a chance to climb to the top of the Wall. David had advised we head left (east) as the climb is a bit easier and it is usually less crowded. He was right about the crowd and with the sun also off to the east, it gave us a great view and great photo ops of the Wall as it stretched out to the west.

It was very windy and very chilly. The Wall is a hard climb. The top varied from almost flat to almost vertical. Some of the more vertical areas had steps but many just had ridges. A tough climb.

After strollling in the eastern direction, I insisted we also walk on the western slope. We did that too and found it even more difficult. Finding a quiet corner in one of the watchtowers, we rested, enjoyed the scenery, and watched the people walking back and forth.

It was a great morning and being able to walk on the Great Wall was a highlight of the trip for Jerry.

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