Climbing the Great Wall of China.

As far as travel lists go, I don’t usually make one (wait, have I told you otherwise elsewhere in the blog? Forgive me, for I must have been inebriated when I said that.) Also, you wouldn’t usually find me in places thronging with people, in stampede-inducing situations. But when I found myself in Beijing, finishing up my Trans Siberian train ride (Oh, I promise never to talk about that trip ever again in these pages), I couldn’t resist a trip to the Great Wall of China.

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Comrades ascending the Great Wall of China.

I had just two-days in Beijing and couldn’t do anything productive and offbeat anyway (other than hunting for cheap street food, of course.) So I embarked on a little trip to the Badaling side of the Great Wall one morning with my travel buddy Lars.

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The Chinese are a pretty obedient lot and this side of the Wall was neat and clean!

You’d assume, given that the Great Wall of China is a world wonder, it would attract international tourists by busload. On the contrary, the Badaling side of Great Wall – apparently most popular section of the Wall – was buzzing with domestic tourists on that sunny day in September when I visited.

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The Badaling side of the Great Wall attracts 180 million visitors each year!
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Railings are installed on each side to aide visitors with difficulty in walking.

Located in Yanqing, 60km from downtown Beijing, the Badaling Wall has been open to foreign tourists starting 1953. Only 3741 m of the wall is open to tourists.

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Of course, that is a mandatory pose on the wall if you are a boy of that age.
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The entire stretch takes a little more than two hours to climb.

According to the signboards, while it was included in the world cultural heritage list by UNESCO in 1987, the wall received two Guinness World Records in 2002. One for record number of visitors and the other for ‘highest reception number of head of state’ (go figure.)

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The Badaling side of the wall is called ‘scenic wall’ and for a reason!
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Scaling the Great Wall of China.

The Badaling side of the Great Wall is called the scenic side and that is not without a reason. Between being squeezed dry by the thronging mass of people and taking pictures, if you looked around you will see azure blue skies, green peaks and dense tree cover all around the wall.

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Shoot me, will you?
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It is quite a panoramic sight if you manage to look around.

At a distance, even Beijing could be seen on a clear day (which is kind of, sort of rare for a city like Beijing whose pollution levels surpass even that of Delhi’s. Or vice versa.)

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Huffing and puffing, we went.
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Clearly, not everybody is enjoying the climb.

‘It is a bridge of friendship between the international friends and the Chinese people,’ reads the signboard, along the lines of standard propaganda-speak.

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The watch towers, towering above dense vegetation, are quite a sight.
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The urge to take pictures in front of the monument is irresistible for the comrades.

The signboard further announces that this section of the wall was ‘ranked first in the selection activity of China’s Forty Best Tourist Destination in 1991.’

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As the day progresses the crowd thins out as climbing is difficult in the harsh sun.

Have you been in Beijing? Have you been to the Great Wall? Leave a comment and let me know.

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11 thoughts on “Climbing the Great Wall of China.

  1. I’ve been in China in 2012. We visit every big city there , and of course Beijing too. I’ve climber the great Wall together with my grandmother, it was sunny, hot day with a good view.

  2. ‘highest reception number of head of state’ – I think many heads of state from around the world come to visit the Great Wall when they visit China on official visits. I’m Malaysian (ethnic background Chinese) but have never been to China. For strange reason, it’s not in my bucket list. Tibet is on my list, does that count? Guess not! 🙂

  3. The Great Wall is one of those ‘must do’ places and terrific you didn’t miss it! First couple times I was in China, didn’t have a chance which made it all the more fabulous when I was able to fit a visit to Badaling between work in Beijing and Hong Kong. Completely worth it!!

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