Visited China Several Years Ago and I found my recap of the Great Wall and thought I would share with all !!!
I heard about the Great Wall all the way back in elementary school. How many times did we hear that astronauts orbiting in space point out that they could see the Great Wall? Never in my life did I expect to go to Beijing, China and certainly go to the Great Wall. Fate, good fortune and my daughter (who worked in Beijing) gave my wife and me this opportunity. We signed up for a tour through the China Cultural Center (recommend them highly). The tour begins at their headquarters in Beijing and on the way out to the Great Wall, you visit the Imperial Ming Tombs before arriving at the Great Wall. There are 3 maintained areas of the Great Wall near Beijing (about 50 miles from the city) and we went to the area known as Mutianyu. You arrive and you have to walk through an area where stalls of anything you can think of are being sold by the locals. My advice is just to keep walking (about 100 yards) and stay focused on going to the enclosed tram (seats 6) to take you up to the starting point. The cost for this tour was about $75 a person and did include lunch and all admissions. Anyhow you arrive at the top (about a 5-minute ride) and you now are standing on The Great Wall. Every emotion imaginable is exploding in your mind as you gaze out in the surrounding area. After the initial shock, you then realize it is time to do your exploration (we have about 3 hours). At this location you can go left or you can go right. My daughter who visited the Great Wall told us to go left as this section is heading towards the highest lookout point in this area. So, we did. The first photo we saw of our daughter on the Great Wall was a picture looking out the area and she was wearing her New England Patriot jersey, so we decided to wear our Red Sox jerseys. As we start our journey, we immediately realize this is not a leisurely stroll. You are faced with steep stairs, narrow steps and lot of ups and down and some flat walkways as we begin our trek. Mutianyu, although touristy, does not get the crowds that the Badaling (another more touristy section) gets and on this particular day it was picture perfect (about 70 degrees and clear skies). We walk up and down on our way over to the tallest section of the wall and it takes us at least 45 minutes to get there. As we look at this section, the way up is all stairs and we are looking at an angle ascent of about 20 degrees and about 300 steps to the top. Needless to say, I did not come all this way to not climb these steps and I will tell you it took me about 20 minutes (with at least 2 rest stops) to reach the top. Upon reaching the top, there is one more climb to the (I will call it the watchtower) which is 20 to 30 very steep and narrow steps and once there you are now faced with this exhilarating view and the reality that you have climbed a section of the Great Wall. We have gone one way and now you have to go back, we do and get back to the starting area when we realize that we still have about an hour to go. We decide to go to the section that we did not do. One of the reasons we decide to do that is there are two ways to descend from the end section. You can go in another tram or you can take (a luge ride) down. We start walking figuring we can to this end section is about 15 to 20 minutes (you look out and it does not look that far) but as you walk you realize it is much farther that you think. Still you are on the Great Wall, the weather is great and the view is spectacular. Finally, about 45 minutes later, we arrive at the section to descend and we are faced 2 choices, another Tram or the luge ride (each cost about $6 a person, a separate charge). We decided to take the Tram (it is a 2-person open tram, like a ski lift) and the wind is picking up. I have to admit I was a little nervous as there were section that were very open and the wind seemed to be blowing stronger and you are hoping that the Tram line remains is tact. We make it down okay as we think back about the experience. WHAT A DAY!!! The only suggestion I would have is that you should take the luge ride. Everyone in our group that took it said it was lots of fun. By the way, you can also walk down (about 20 minutes), but having walked (it seems like 5 miles) it was time to ride down. The Great Wall - A VISIT OF A LIFETIME!!!