28 September 2010. China.
Probably China’s most famous attraction is its Great Wall, said to be the only man-made structure visible from the moon. This wonder is included in all history textbooks, as in fact I learned of it during my primary years in school. I thought the Great Wall was an important attraction that I’ll only read from books, or view on the television. Imagine my delight therefore when I finally laid foot on this impressive creation.
We booked the Secret Wall Tour for our second day in Beijing. For 260 RMB, the group had a ride to and from the Great Wall section where we would start the hike, an English-speaking guide, and lunch. It was on an early cold Beijing morning that I walked the hutong towards the bus that would take us to the Wall. Excitement was in my atmosphere; it felt like I was having an early Christmas. My group was merged with backpackers from Leo Hostel and other hostels. Travel from Beijing to the Wall must have been,more or less, an hour; I lost track of the time because I slept. When we finally arrived, however, every sense in me was awakened.
The hike covered the restored and the not restored areas of the Great Wall section that was included in the tour. There were six towers to conquer, but I was able to cover only two and a half. It was a steep climb and the cold wind bit hard. The beauty of this tour is a chance to see the Wall in its rawness. There were no other tourists around, just our group.
Images of the Wall:
The extreme cold, at least by my standards, had me seeking the warmth of the second tower. I never left. I spent the rest of the climbing hours allotted to the group to warm myself and rest my feet. The guide, who also stopped at the second tower, instructed me to go back at the drop-off point and just walk all the way to the parking lot, where our buses were waiting for us to drive us to lunch. I was so looking forward to lunch – a reward for conquering the toughest Great Wall tour, or in my case, the second tower. The walk to the parking lot was pleasurable, though seemingly endless. Lunch, it turned out, consisted of vegetables; it must have been a Tibetan treat, I really don’t know. I was too tired to take a picture of our vegan lunch; besides, I was with a group of people from different countries and I didn’t bother to ask whether or not they appreciated having their lunch as the subject of my photo ops. My group made up for the rather sorry lunch with a sumptuous dinner of peking duck and other Chinese delicacies at De Yuan, a restaurant near the hostel.
Call me melodramatic, but to this day, I could not get over the fulfillment of having hiked the Great Wall of China.