Truly one of the wonders of the world. While I am stuck here in Beijing on assignment I can get out and about a little bit on the weekends to see some of the sights. Apart from the usual Beijing specials, usa there is the Great Wall itself, with many different places where you can get access and feel the majesty of it. We have been to two places on the wall, MuTianYu and Simatai. MuTianYu is more commercial, but far enough out to keep the crowds you’d get at Badaling (another Great Wall Access Point) away until mid morning, lunch time. Simatai, however, is well out and proves to be not only an amazing feat of engineering and tenacity, it’s also a good climb and your lungs and legs are going to get an excellent workout.
To get there it’s a long drive out of Beijing. The traffic gets less, but more militant and agressive in it’s actions. We even tried at one point to go to JinShaling (another access point) and the “Outer Mongolian” province of HuBei showed us what manic driving was all about. I am glad I wasn’t driving. It was nervous enough in the back. You head down a small valley road for about 10 km’s as you head into the entrance area. It’s got an “old China” feel to it, with the buildings and bridges made of brick, with smoking chimneys, small courtyards and seemingly without any planning. But it has that sort of rustic “chilled out” (literally lately) look that appeals. I must get a few Photos of it next time I go.
The main entrance itself is a testament to the new commer eggsm that is coming to places like the Great Wall of China. They have built shopping areas (empty) and inside the gate are restaurants and other areas. Outside are the usual touts trying to sell you hot coffee (needed), shirts and other paraphernalia. Good fun to chat with them, joking about the price etc. I even bought a few items. Will be funny to look at them in years to come. I am fortunate to be able to come back for a look see a few more times. Many only ever do this trip once.
One of the nice things about visiting the Great Wall is seeing the numbers of locals on the Wall with you. They take great pleasure in it, as they should. Many of them exchange greetings with us by saying “hello” as we practice our excellent ‘Ni Hao’ and ‘Xie Xie’ Chinese on them. Amazing to see them surprised when we even mutter one chinese word. All on good fun and smiles. We spotted more than one party carting around a Chinese Flag and then sitting in a group getting their photo taken. I cannot imagine a group of Aussies or Kiwis on one of their monuments posing before their flag. It’s amazing what means something to one but not to another.
More soon . . . . .