Beijing, China: A Great Hike
Of course no trip to Beijing would be complete without a trip to the Great Wall of China and even if it was the middle of winter and temperatures were freezing, we were going to make the trip.
We chose a part of the wall that we’d heard was generally less populated by tourists and took a car out to a lift that would take us up. Less populated was right, though I imagine that had more to do with the frigid temperatures and less to do with the location we’d chosen now that I think back. The roads were so empty of people or other cars at one point that we questioned if we’d chosen a driver that was perhaps taking us someplace that we didn’t want to go.
We ended up where we wanted to be at the lift up to the Mutianyu section of the wall. We waited around with one other family of four for some time wondering where the crowds of people were that we’d always seen in photos and wondering why the lift hadn’t started taking people up yet. The time posted to start came and then went by and still nothing started to move and all the while we were left standing outside in the wind with the sun shining above though it helped little with heating us to a comfortable temperature. Finally, in very broken English we gathered that the lift was frozen and they were trying to heat up something so that it would start working. We could either wait for the lift, which we wouldn’t know when would start, or we could hike up. We hadn’t planned on a hike and it was at that moment that a member of the other group waiting started flapping her arms and jumping up and down and gesturing for us to do the same. Clearly she wanted us to keep warm.
Eventually, I can’t say for sure how long it was, though it was long enough for us to feel the cold in our bones once again, the lift finally started up. The Mutianyu section of the wall was built during the early Ming Dynasty under Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang. There are 22 towers on this section of the wall and it snakes along for about 3,000 meters. It is the longest fully restored section that is open to tourists. Hiking along this section of the wall afforded us beautiful views of the surrounding area dense with trees and was empty but for the four other people who came up just behind us. By the time we hiked back and forth and took numerous photos we were warmed up and ready to continue the day back in the city. The trip down from the wall was even more fun than the lift up as we got to ride down on a slide.
Back down below we were met with a few stalls of people hawking goods next to the parking lot our driver had stayed in waiting for us. The wall was massive, just as the Forbidden City had been the day before and we were content to have visited something that people speak of around the world when talking of trips to China.
Mutianyu Section of the Great Wall of China
Mutianyu Road, Huairou District, Beijing, China
Hours: 8:00AM ~ 4:00PM
Admission: Adults: 45 yuan; Children: 25 yuan
Cable Car Fees:
- Adults: Single Trip: 80 yuan, Round Trip: 100 yuan
- Children: Single Trip: 40 yuan, Round Trip: 50 yuan