Since my trip to China in December last year, I’ve cherished a longing for the calmness of the Chinese countryside and a taste of home-made curries. My airy hope about China got realized by hiking the Great Wall, exploring the Terracotta Warriors, wading through the hustle & bustle of Shanghai and reveling in the glory of Beijing. All of these sights and places gave me anecdotes that will last a lifetime, and a trip to China would be incomplete without visiting these places. The country side has so much to offer from watching villagers working with cormorants to fish the ponds to hair tying demonstrations by Yaoh tribal women. This country holds a very special place in my heart since it was my very first solo travel destination.
After glossing though many pictures of the Great Wall over the years, I was still not prepared for the sheer richness of the structure when I visited it for real. Firstly, just to say, if you are traveling to Beijing, the Great Wall is so easy to visit, you would be bonkers if you missed the chance. To walk on the wall is an experience never to be forgotten. Most parts of the Great Wall of China have been degraded to scree over the past years, but there is a vast section which has been rebuilt for the tourists. Popular routes include the section around Badaling and Jinshanling to Simatai route. I chose Badaling since it is considered to be much more peaceful and the surrounding view is mesmerizing. It is falsely believed that there is a single Great Wall of China stretching over the entire region of China. Rather, it consists of many small walls built over the course of time.
I boarded a local train from the Beijing North Railway Station along with a few local Chinese friends who joined me on this amazing journey to the Great wall. The train ticket was for 6 RMB per head and it took us around an hour to reach the Badaling Railway station. After getting off the train at Badaling Station, we walked eastwards for about 20 minutes to reach the ticketing office at the foot of the Great Wall. After authorizing ourselves, we proceeded to hike along the path.
When I say hike, I don’t mean walking in the park! There’s a lot of climbing involved and there are course of lofty and steep steps which makes it quite arduous. A little hard on the the knees, but every moment elapsed whilst walking on the Great Wall is worth it. Anyone who’s motivated enough and has the right amount of grit can do it. Even so, I saw many out of shape folks struggling and gasping on the steeper regions! The Key word to describe the hike is mountainous. Throughout the hike, there are tiny stalls with hawkers selling amazing souvenirs. It may be exciting to know that one can get a special Great Wall medal (Gold/ Silver/Bronze- depending on the money you want to shell )at the end with the added personal touch of having your name carved in for like 10 bucks!
Make sure to take your time to hike the Great Wall of China. It took me around 5 hours when probably I could have done in less than 2 hours ! There’s absolutely no legitimate reason you need to speed walk when you’re touring one of the 7 Wonders of the Middle Ages. I keenly believe in just standing still and soaking it all up.