“Those who have not climbed the Great Wall is not a true man” said Chairman Mao. The Great Wall is definitely one of the not-missed tourist attractions to any travelers to China. The Great Wall extends from the far west from Jaiyuguan Pass to Shanghaiguan Pass in the east measuring thousands of miles. Restored walls or ruins scatter throughout the country, but the best parts are in Beijing. There are mainly three parts: the Badaling, Simatai and Mutianyu walls in Beijing. The Badaling wall is too touristy because of its reputation while the Simatai Great Wall is too remoteness for us so we made it to the Mutianyu wall, which is neither so crowded as the Badaling nor so inaccessible as the Siamtai.
It was a nice day. We caught a metro to the Dongzhimen Station and hopped on the No. 916 bus. The road condition is not so satisfactory, a bit bumping. . We arrived at the Longshan Hotel in Huairou, not far away from the wall ( I guess). There are local mini buses heading for the wall. After a few hand signs exchange, we knew the driver asked for 30 yuan. We tried to negotiate ( our guide book told it is customary to negotiate in China) but the driver just shook his head, very strange for this area. We were dropped off at the entrance ticket office. The entrance ticket is 35 per person, 50 plus for a round tram ride, 35 for single way, tram+slide 55 yuan, single slide down 40 yuan.
There are north and south climb routes. We climbed from the south road. A roadside sigh board indicates how many steps you have already walked. Climbing up the steep steps is really challenging. Mary felt complete exhausted when we reached at the No. 6 watch tower and here came the most difficult part. You have a part of precipitous straight upward section then another sharp downward road. Some steps are very huge and the climb steep. You are totally exposed to the weather while on the wall, no shade at all. The tower fortunately provides minimal room for a short brief. Wind blew in from the windows, cool and refreshing. A barrier was placed at the end of the No. 1 tower reminding customers of the end of the open part. Both Mary and I were very curious of what the original wall looking like and Mary suggested continuing to the ruined parts. We leaped across the barrier and went forward. There was no way at all. Bricks of the ruined wall, scattered rocks, high wild weeds, bushes made it very hard to walk through and you had to be very careful of not being hurt. Pleased to see that we were not alone. Adventurers like us passed us frequently. We arrived at a broken tower, enjoying the views of the wall winding on the mountain ridge into the eastern horizon
We saw another ruined wall outside the No. 2 tower. This part, also was not allowed travelers to enter. We climbed through the window and walked a short very broken section, not dare to explore more and returned.
Our next goal is the 20th tower. It was noon. The unbearable heat surrounds us. I drank several bottled water but sweated heavily and still felt very thirsty. As we got to the 19th tower seeing the road to the next tower lengthy and steep, like a ladder to the heaven, Mary realized she would not make in to the tower. I left her here for a break and headed there alone. But soon I found I overestimated my physical strength and could only drag my exhausted legs forward and had to stop several times to take breath. I came across an American father and his young son. The boy was crying for a rest and Dad tried to encourage him. The father nodded at me and said to me: ” you can make it” pointing his boy” if he can, you can!” “ yes, surely I can.” The conversation was interesting but only lasted a few minutes as they started their journey soon. Here I was at the No. 20 watch tower.
The adage of "Ascending will be easy but descending hard" prove its correctness. My legs began to shiver as I walked down.
We planned to slide down at the 6th tower but only to find both us was not able to walk so long so that we took the tram at the 14th tower.
Getting on a bus at the foot of the mountain and arrived in Beijing in the evening.