Hello dear fellas! Hello hikers and mountain climbers. Hello simple tourist who wishes to take a selfie on top of the world.
This post will be especially for those who want to visit/hike on the Great Wall of China. Obviously, I am no tourist-guide so this can also be for your own curiosity if you do not want to climb those mountains/to step on History.
I have been on 2 sections of the Wall so far. No need to tell you this is nothing! So many others are waiting for travelers like us to come pay a visit. Let’s just say, one ISN’T the other. And I do not wish to visit all of them. I don’t say that because it is similar, like I said none of them are alike. Let’s just say some are less appealing due to different facts.
Let me tell you more about those two sections I visited, and from there I will explain why I don’t want to visit some but still wish to step on others.
Hard hike over sweat path
The first one is Jinshanling: a really long snake circling between the mountains North of Wangjing District. This section is beautiful in Spring. Grasslands and trees see their flowers blossoming. The sun is up there fiercely shining but a small cool breeze helps you get through the “promenade”. It is a pure “merveille” (a sight for sore eyes) and the breathtaking view opens up on a wild horizon mixing the blue of the sky, the green of the grass, the colors of flowers. No words can really pay tribute to this beauty of nature. And one of the best things on that section is the lack of tourists…. You can almost feel alone on top of one of the beacon’s tower. So one huge pros: Jinshanling has that Badailu hasn’t (other section closer to Beijing), which is a peaceful hike on the ancient wall. Why would there have less tourists than another section? Easy answer: it is mainly ruins!
When you get to any gates of the Wall, you’ll face right away a forest going up and up. At the end of the path through the jungle (yes, you may encounter animals but be assured nothing will happen to you), you will be able to admire the beautiful view of a ruined but still present Wall going through the mountains miles and miles away. This is actually the best thing when you visit this historical edifice: the ruins of ancestral men-work. You can witness the remains of what our ancestors built years and years ago.
On the other hand, Badaling is a complete rebuilt section! nothing there (or almost nothing) is actually part of history but the impression of what was standing there before it got demolished by time, war or age. For that, I am glad I had the chance to visit the Wall in that state. You can really feel the sweat and work men put on building, assembling and putting brick by brick to make that Wall. Don’t get me wrong though! Badaling must be impressive! It shows touists what was the Wall many years ago. It gives you the impression to see really that amazing work done. Still, call me old fashion, I prefer the original to the “copy”.
Another fact that made this hike even more interesting: the ruined steps and broken watchtowers kinda force you to use your own strength and sweat to walk up and down those paths. If you have sticks like a lot of Chinese, take them, use them! Climbing up is easier than climbing down when you have a bunch of broken stairs between two almost intact. This is a real adventurous path. That makes a big difference between sections like Badaling or Mutianyu and Jinshanling: as the rebuilt section make your walk easier and nice on new reconstructed Wall, Jinshanling and else will offer you the chance to do some sport and really make your day. It made mine, as I wanted to cry every step I took, and not because it was hard but because of the beauty and feelings that rushed inside of me.
Contemplate the ruins of time, the work of men and the history of a nation.
The Yellow Flower City & the Lakeside Wall
黄花城 (HuangHuaCheng) is the mountainous and lakeside second section I had the pleasure to visit.
黄 (huang) stands for the color « yellow » 黄色 . 花 (hua) is the word meaning flower and 城 is the pre-character in Chinese standing for « city » (城市 « chengshi » is the complete word).
This “yellow city” is actually a part of the wall partially rebuilt. BUT, but, its scenery is way more than just what Badaling or Miutianyu offers!
The restored part offers a large Wall walk, ending with a breathtaking lake in the center of the mountains around and some ruined parts of the wall visible and… invisible! Yes, parts of the Wall are immersed in the water! This spectacular view is unique and makes HuangHuaCheng special and the only section with such a great view inside the mountains.
Moreover, the trek proposed to hikers there is actually not ON the Wall but ON themountainside!!! This is extraordinary to be able to hike there as the yellowed-mountains offer an amazing view from up there to their flank.
My day over there was weirdly good and bad. We decided, with one of my roommates at the time, to join some students of the School I was doing my internship for. We didn’t know anyone and yet bounded really fast with them. The good part was meeting over a hiking day a bunch of really great people and having the chance of a lifetime to visit such a beautiful section of the Wall. #NatureLovers here and #AmateurPhtographer ! Though, that day turned into one of my worst nightmare as we walked alongside the mountains ‘flanks. I saw what you may call a big big worm, what I called a creature of Hell: a SNAKE! Not that rare in those areas (the mountains), it actually impacted all of my trip in the mountains after that and still until recently! I am not afraid of snakes… I am TERRIFIED. Phobia is a euphemism to what I actually feel when I see one (pictures/TV/cinema included).
Though, I still continued my hike, after a long time of breathing exercises to calm down. At the end, we had a blast! We hiked in some great places and followed dangerous and slippery paths alongside the flanks and a small river.
We went back and admired the Wall immerging slowly into the lake as some boats allowed tourists (a bit more crowded than Jinshaling) to sail from a small harbor to the other side of the lake and other trek trails. It was definitely one of the best experiences I had in China, snake horror aside, as the beauty of men-work and natures itself made that section an unforgettable souvenir.
In the upcoming days, I will post in the Gallery section of my blog my pictures from those Great Wall journeys. In the meantime, I let you enjoy some that I posted on my #Instagram profile (www.instagram.com/romain_blog) and put you a link to the website of ChinaHighlights, which is the best website in my opinion to give all the details to “How to get in the section of your choice”.
See you soon guys!