Even for people who know nothing about China, they have probably heard of the Great Wall. The Great Wall of China is not only the most famous thing here, but one of the most famous things in the world. Like the pyramids in Egypt or the Coliseum in Rome, it’s one of those things that you learn about as a kid and is unforgettable. It’s on pretty much any top 10 list. Being here, I was incredibly thrilled to be able to go see it.
The wall was started being built in 220 BC and was absolutely massive at 13,000 miles long. It was used to keep out invaders back in the day, but after it stopped being used, lots of it crumbled and got overtaken by wilderness. It’s no longer one big wall, but many sections of wall with some of them in better condition than others. Oh, and would you believe that it’s the only man made thing that you can see from outer space? I hope not, because that’s actually not true. You can’t see the wall from space.
Anyways, several of the sections of wall that you can see are near Beijing. The closest section to town is the one that most people see, but everything I’ve read is that it is pretty awful. For one thing, most of it is “reconstructed” (aka fake) and also there are mobs of tourists everywhere. Instead you can go see the “wild wall” which is chunks of wall farther out. That wall is mostly the real deal and there ware way fewer people.
I set out super early in the morning and in typical fashion almost missed my tour. When we got to Gubeikou, it was lightly raining and super misty so it was kind of tough to see. We trekked up the hill a bit and after a while got to the wall.
The wall was fucking amazing! It was so incredible to be up there and see this thing that is such an iconic sight. We walked along the wall and, as advertised, there really were not that many people there. As you walk the wall, you hit a series of watchtowers that you scramble through. Eventually, some of the mist burned off and the views were even more breathtaking… You could see for days and the wall just stretched on forever and ever.
After 5km, we were given a choice of either going down to the bus or continuing on for another 1km. Most people gave up at this point, but I continued. At this point, there were lots of stretches where I was literally the only person I could see. All was quiet and it was just me, hiking on top of the Great Wall of China. Such a surreal moment. I took about a zillion photos.
Afterwards, we got fed a *massive* amount of Chinese food. We were all pretty much starving after the hike, so food an beer was so nice.