We planned to do a lot in China. I was most excited about visiting the Great Wall. I don’t find sitting on the beach especially soothing, and I can’t sit still in a hotel room without going crazy. So instead, when we travel I like to take photos. It forces me to slow down and really appreciate what I am seeing. It helps me relax. The Great Wall seemed like the perfect photo opportunity, and it did not disappoint.
There are several sections of the Wall that are easily accessible in a day from Beijing. I spent hours looking at tour options to the different sites, trying to find the one that best suited our desired level of adventure (no long hikes in super hot weather for us), and desired size of crowds (as small as possible). In the end we planned a full day trip with a tour company that also included Tienanmen Square and the Forbidden City. You can see a few photos from that portion of the tour in the post China: Land Unexpected. After spending the mornings roasting with no shade through these two impressive, but very sunny tourist hot spots, we were ready for a few hours on an air-conditioned bus. For two hours we drove towards the Mutianyu section of the Wall.
Various parts of the Great Wall have been restored throughout history. Some are basically ruins, while others are nearly all recent reconstruction. This section is in tact, relatively easy to traverse. We didn’t anticipate then hundreds of stairs we would have to take to get to the chair lift that takes you up to the mountain ridge where the wall is – but it was worth every step. Others in our group valiantly climbed the 1000 steps up.
The views from the top are impressive, even if you don’t consider the 1500 year old structure under your feet. Built on the crest of mountains, even walking along the well-reconstructed pathways can throw off your equilibrium. I found it necessary to walk with a hand on the wall to feel secure.
As a spot to take beautiful photos it did not disappoint. I am putting a few of my favorites here. If I ever go back to Beijing, I will make time to visit it again. It was spectacular.