A Trip To The Wall On A Clear Blue Day

One of the top tourist destinations around the world (and a must see if you find yourself in China) had not been on my radar, until now. There are just so many places to travel to that it simply did not make it to my top 10. But as I have discovered in the past few years, when you let go of plans, life takes you to wonderful and unexpected places.

With a few days off from work, Beijing came to mind as an ideal weekend trip, since it’s only a five hour train ride away from Hangzhou. Bill had been there before, but it was my first time and I wanted to visit the major tourist “must sees and do’s” of the city. Needless to say, the Great Wall was one of them.

If you have ever been to a Chinese tourist spot on a Chinese holiday, you must be familiar with the mass amount of people who travel to these locations at the same time; the Great Wall is no exception. We considered our options and decided to head out to Jinshanling, a section of the Wall that is further away from Beijing, thereby attracting fewer tourists. Although over the past few years, Jinshanling has grown in popularity, winter is considered a low season and the direct bus from Beijing does not run.

We woke up early and took the subway to the bus station to catch the public bus heading to Miyun terminal. Once at Miyun, we were able to negotiate a round trip deal for a private car to the entrance of Jinshanling. The journey was longer than anticipated, and we even considered heading back, but in the end, our troubles were worth all the effort. As we drove closer to the area, sections of the Wall appeared and with them, my excitement grew. I have seen many photographs, but couldn’t believe how much more impressive it is in real life.

Immediately after arriving, we noticed the emptiness around us: there was practically no one; we had this grand place almost to ourselves, with a clear blue sky as the “cherry on top”. On the last steps of the first set of stairs, I had my first close-up glimpse of the Wall. Majestic: it appeared and disappeared with the ups and downs of the hills…never ending. It proved to be one of the most impressive places I have visited thus far.