The Great Wall, Baijing, China
Friday 25th July 2008
Today was the day. One of the main reasons, myself at least, decided to come to China, The Great Wall. One of the largest man made objects ever constructed. An architectural feat so large it can be seen from space. A visit that can be found on most peoples list of things to see before they die. The wall was built, rebuilt, and maintained between the 6th century BC and the 16th century AD. At its longest it stretched 10,000km and today stretches 6,400km. Some 2 - 3 million men are estimated to have died building it through the centuries. Needless to say we were all excited and had been looking forward to this for the entire trip.
We set off from the hotel early, around 7.30am, and drove by chartered bus to a section of the wall located in Mutianyu around 70km away. This is one of the best preserved parts of the Great Wall and dates back to the beginning of the 15th century. There was a mist in the air as we left Beijing but we were hopeful that it would have cleared by the time we reached the wall. It did not. We arrived at the tourist village car park around 9am and quickly jumped on a cable car to take us up to tower 14 on the wall. Stunning as the views were, the picturesque images of the wall winding over the peaks into the distance were obscured by mist. Incredibly frustrating at first, but as we walked along we realised that the weather had brought with it one redeeming attribute. Quiet! Because we had gotten there so early, and thanks to the weather there were very few people up there. For the majority of the time we were the only people on the wall at all, an incredibly rare thing to achieve in China. On this 2,250m stretch of the wall there are 22 towers. We walked from tower 14 to tower 22, which is the highest section of the wall and is as far as you can go before the wall deteriorates. The climb up to gate 22 from gate 21 was incredibly steep which just makes you ask how the hell they managed to build an 8m high granite wall, that steep, and on top of a mountain? The views from up there were staggering. What an amazing place.