Winter is OVER! Not coming before next year. Here, it’s the Spring Festival, and pollution is slowly blown away, birds are singing again.
On this note, I want to talk to you about my first time… on the Wall! No giant here, no White Walkers or other Wargl, just History itself. Nature, sun, blue sky, perfect landscape and scenery. A GREAT walk on this historical site.
First time I heard about the Great Wall of China, I was maybe 8 or 9 years old. I loved Tomb Raider and I wanted to be the next Indiana Jones/Lara Croft (boy style though). Playing on my new game, I lead Lara on the Wall, IF the tiger didn’t finish me off before. Stepping on that virtual Wall, it blew my mind. I wanted to see it by myself. April 2016, I realized my dream (#ThrowBackThusday or #FlashBackFriday).
You know that this wall has been built through time. You know that every section has its own historical background. Still, when you step on it for the first time of your life, you feel like a king taking a quick look at the wild empire he rules (actually, you are a stupid tourist among the others walking alone and constantly paying attention where you step in because it’s all in ruins… #Bummer!).
We went one day with a bunch of friends, waking up so early but so excited. We took the subway then a 2 hour bus leading us through the mountains until we reached the main door. Around 10 am, we finally got the chance to climb some half-rocky half-dirt stairs and start our day hiking on the Great Wall of China.
What I am writing right now and you are reading comfy in your sofa is not even close to what I experienced. The moment I saw the first beacon tower up on that hill, I realized. Hundreds of years ago, some guy decided to build this wall in order to protect his kingdom from outsiders. We, the outsiders from far away, were now marching on to that same ruined wall. And damn those guys guarding the tower were small! Even I, 1m74 I had to bend because it was so narrow in there….
But the view. The scenery. The landscape. Thehorizon. The fresh air. The beauty of this world. The shape of mountains far away. This gigantic dragon made of stone winds up anddown across mountains, grasslands. It was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. Men’s doing unfolding in front of me, weird but amazing feeling in my stomach, I wanted to cry. You can’t be amazed as long as you haven’t experienced by yourself. And just for that, China is worth the trip!
This section is quite far from Beijing (as I said 2 hours by bus, 1 hour by subway depending when you are living/staying in Beijing), but it hasn’t been rebuilt. Badaling and Mutianyu sections are the most popular, and have been rebuilt over time. On my opinion, if it is adventure that you seek, it won’t be there. Appealing indeed, those sections are to be visited if you wish to take pictures of local or foreign people all over the place.
Jinshanling section is the first one I visited. As it may have been restored partially to help people hiking safely, a lot of it is still ruins of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), which brings us back 300 to 600 years ago! It has been renovated in 1567 but it still is a great hike, and let’s be honest hard one. Wangjing Tower spot is breathtaking. Counting more than 60 watchtowers, 3 beacon towers and 5 passes, youclimb up and down on ancient stairs, holding to the wall (or what’s left of it) just to be sure you won’t fall… on an old Chinese hiker managing way better than you are his “promenade” with his sticks.
As you can see on the picture below, it was an old lady who hiked behind me. She was crazy fast… She caught up with me while I was trying to climb down a bit further on my butt… Caught up and walked away as if it was a simple walk in the park… Bummer again!
Still, that picture is one of the best captions of this trip. Seeing those elders overtaking me (especially because I took like a thousand pictures… hum!) and no other soul around made that day and my souvenirs unforgettable. I cannot express all the feelings I had that day as my picture won’t ever make it right to the real thing in front of your eyes.
If you want to try hiking that part of the Wall, I suggest you to check on the link below. Prepare yourself for 2 to 4 hours of intensive w
alk on top of the world. Buy some hiking sticks (we didn’t, we should have, trust me) and a big bottle of water. Empty your camera SD card or phone gallery because from the main door to the exit point, you will have this urge of capturing everything around you, as the world unfolds and extends in front of your amazed eyes. I tell you, I am still recovering from these wonders.
See you soon guys!
All pictures are mine, they were taken with my old Samsung Galaxy S4. For more (with my brand new Huawei Mate 8) check out my instagram : @romain_blog
Interested of hiking over there, get some more professional info here: https://www.travelchinaguide.com/china_great_wall/scene/beijing/jinshanling.htm