I first heard about the Great Wall when I was a kid. I've seen photos of it and watched shows on tv featuring it. At first it did not interest me that much. For me it's nothing more than a wall built on the mountains, but later the stories I've read about it fueled my interest.
I had made two previous attempts to go to Beijing to see the wall but it was on my third try that I finally got to book a round-trip ticket and apply for a visa. When I finally got the chance to visit the Great Wall I planned everything down to the smallest details.I couldn't afford to miss it this time.
I decided to go to the wall on my first day in Beijing so that if anything happens ( like if I get lost or there's a bad weather ) and it stops me from going to the wall at least I will still have another chance to do it during the rest of my time in Beijing. My flight was at 7:45 PM from Manila and we landed at the Beijing Capital International Airport Terminal 2 at 12 midnight ( there's no time difference between Manila and Beijing). I had one problem though , I hadn't booked a place to stay during my first night because I'd planned on starting the tour first thing in the morning. It only meant one thing , I would have to carry my backpack all the way to the Great Wall. Interesting !
I tried to get some sleep at the airport but it was just too cold that I ended up wondering if the airport's heating system was broken. The pilot announced when we landed that the temperature was 7C , crazy for someone who has lived in the Philippines all his life. I decided to step outside to check if it was any different from the temperature inside the airport (I thought the heating system of one of the busiest airports in the world couldn't be left broken).The moment the door opened it's like somebody splashed a pail of ice cold water at me. It was a lot colder outside, the temperature had actually dropped to zero when I checked.
At 6 AM I was already lining up at the Airport Express Station located at the basement of the airport. I was heading to Dongzhimen where I'd be taking a bus from going to the Mutianyu Great Wall. I paid 25 RMB for the train ride. The sight of dead trees welcomed me as the train was moving towards central Beijing. I was in awe of what I saw. It was all new to me since it's my first time to experience spring. I'm used to lush, green surroundings back home all year round. As I alighted the train I pulled out the directions that I'd printed out from the internet. I was looking for a bus terminal where I could take bus 936 from. When I got to the place I was told that bus 936 has ceased taking tourists to Mutianyu section of the wall. Mutianyu section is preferred by a lot of visitors because it's less touristy and more authentic compared to the more popular Badaling section. The downside though is it's farther. Mutianyu is a two-hour drive from Beijing whereas Badaling is only an hour away.The other option to get to Mutianyu was to take bus 916 to Huairo then from Huairo take a mini van to Mutianyu. Buses 916 are stationed at another terminal, the one that you'll see the moment you come out from the Dongzhimen subway station. If you're facing east it's on the left side of the road. The bus fare to Huairo was 11 RMB. I met a Chinese college student and a middle-aged man. I sat next to them on the bus so they could tell me where to get off. From the bus stop in Huairo I just crossed the street and hopped into a mini van waiting on the other side of the road. I paid 40 RMB for the ride.
|Dried fruits sold at the foot of the mountain|
The sun was up but I found it weird that it was still very cold. It was worse whenever the wind blew. I didn't have gloves so I had to put my hands in my pocket because they'd get numb if exposed to the cold for so long. The entrance fee to the wall was 45 RMB and I shelled out another 45 RMB for a one-way ride on the cable car. I chose to take the cable car on the way up because the walls are built way on top of the mountains so trekking could take so much time. Since I was in a hurry to get to Mutianyu early I forgot to eat breakfast. The food at the eateries at the base of the mountain was expensive, an instant cup of noodles costs 25RMB. As I looked at the walls on top of the mountain I grabbed a bar of snickers from my bag. That power bar carried me through the climb.
The moment I stepped on the wall I kept thanking the Lord for taking me to one of the wonders of the world. I felt so blessed at that moment. I started taking pictures while walking, I would walk a few meters then stop, take pictures again (so I'd have lots of photos for my collection of Beijing pictures) and marvel at the view around the wall. It's great seeing the wall snaking along the rugged terrain. One of the questions that a visitor to the great wall would often ask is "How long is the Great Wall?'', as it streches as far as the eye can see.I tried to research its length but I found different answers.The length of the wall and the rugged terrain made the climb really hard. I had underestimated it and I ended up panting like a dog the whole time.
I just couldn't believe I was on the wall. I took my time and enjoyed the entire experience because I had waited for almost three decades to see it.
After consuming all your energy on climbing the wall the next thing you may worry about is how to descend from the mountain. There are two easy ways to do that, one is to ride the cable car again or if you're up to more fun and adventure you can try the tobogan ride for 50 RMB.
|A fun way to descend from the wall is via the Tobogan ride|