Affectionately referred to by my Cousin as, "The Great Circle of China".....and then I added, BADA BING!
I know....we're corny.
Day Two of our adventure...we climbed the Great Wall of China!
That morning, we left Beijing and drove 1.5 hours to the Badaling section of the wall. Research, and our guide Oscar, stated that this section is the best preserved and most popular amoung all the sections...its also the most visited by tourists (not that I'm upset about it b/c I got to see the Great Wall of China but I would have preferred going to a less visited area to get the realness of it all. They bring tourists here b/c it is accessible and has easier walking conditions with handrails on each side of the steep stairways).
This section of the wall got its name b/c the parts of it stretch in all directions from this point. This portion of the wall is about 3281 ft above sea level and spans 4.7 miles. The wall itself is approximately 26 ft to 19 ft tall, in different areas. This makes for some pretty steep upstair climbs and for people like me, who realize just how out of shape they are halfway thru the first set of stairs...it can be a bit of a struggle lol...maybe struggle is an understatement.
History lesson for the day: This part of the wall was built in 1505 during the Ming Dynasty, under the reign of Emperor Hong Zhi and has been open to the public since 1957. The height and location proved to be a strategic position for transportation and defense during ancient times.
This map will help to explain why it appeared to be more of a circle. There are railroad tracks, a highway and a body of water that pass thru the middle of the Badaling section. At the Zhan Tianyou Status, there's the Qinglonqiao Bridge. This brige crosses over Beijing Baotou Roadway and goes to the other side of the bridge. So looking down at the Wall on the other side of the highway, it seems to make a circle. From that vantage point, you can't tell that the wall continues on for miles and miles.
We entered the Great Circle/Wall at the North Gate. When you get inside and look to the left, towards the South No. 4 Tower, you'll see an extremely steep set of stairs...
To the right, toward North No 4. Tower, was a less daunting set of stairs so we went that way. Here's my cousin and I at the standing at the top of North Gate.
As you can see...because it was below freezing temperatures outside, there weren't many visitors. To me, that was the best part. We got a chance to actually explore the wall without having to step over a ton of people and I got plenty of pics without random strangers in them. I live for a pic without any other people in it.
This is going to be another of those posts with more pictures, less words. I think the wall can speak for itself.
This is one of my favorite pics so I took some time to edit it. I love the one guy carefully walking down the long windy stairs, minding each precarious step. What's even better is that amazing red shutter over the window in the tower in the background. All this set against the sharp blue sky and the earthy tones of the mountains...I was fortunate with this one.
When you reach North No. 8 Tower, the wall ends. It actually looks like there was a break and it picks up about 50 yards away but you can't go any further. However, if you turn back and retrace your steps a little, there's another passage to the left that leads to the bridge I mentioned before. There were hardly any people on that side and we had a little more time so my cousin, one of our group members and I, decided to see what the other side had to offer. You'll see below that it was more of the incredible Great Wall...meandering and winding through and between the majestic peaks of the mountains. It was a clear and beautiful day, hardly a cloud in the sky.
My camera really loved all the angles of the wall. In the pic above, it looks like the wall was built to mimic the outline of the mountain peak behind it. Love.
Unfortunately, by the time we got to this side we realized that once you pass over the bridge, you cannot exit the Great Wall into the parking lot where our bus was waiting to retrieve us. We ended up going through a maze and then walking along the side of a busy highway trying to figure out how to get down to the lot. We were looking down at it...but couldn't get to it! I suggested that my cousin work on his parkour skills and jump down onto the top of a charter bus and then scale down the side of it to reach the tour guide and then come back for us. I think he considered it for a sec. Then, we did the more logical thing and called the guide. So he, the bus and a few disgruntled tour members picked us up. We were greeted by booing as we boarded lol....good times.
Have a great week everyone! More to come.