The Great Wall Experience
The majority of our final week in China was spent in Beijing. We reached Beijing in the afternoon, and, after we checked into our hotel, we worked on our project. We planned Friday of that week to visit the Great Wall, so it was important that we finished as much work possible. I was really looking forward to this visit to The Great Wall. It has been on my list of places to see for some time now. I've heard so many things about it, such as you can see it from space! It turns out this was a myth. Think about it: There are no lights surrounding the area; therefore, you won't be able to see anything from space.This point was highlighted by another traveler when we visited the area.
We visited a section of the Great Walls situated 70km from Beijing. The area is called Mutianyu. It is less touristy than the other parts of the wall that are located closer to Beijing and this worked well for us. We left the hotel around 8:30am accompanied by two additional local friends of Xiaoran and Lucy.
The drive to the Great Wall was fascinating to see. We drove through small towns, almost village-like places along dusty roads. It was very cool to be exposed to a different environment than the cities where we have been living. We reached the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall in an hour and a half. We took cable cars up to the wall area, and the minute we reached the top, I was in awe! You can see the wall in both directions with rolling green hills surrounding it and many watchtowers are still intact. These watchtowers served as an observation area for the military back in the day. We spent two hours climbing and walking in the area. There was one area that was so steep and had so many steps, that once I reached the top, I felt as though I had just completed an intense session of a StairMaster workout! But, the views were stunning.
Visiting the Great Wall exposed me to more of the historical side of China, the side that I didn't get to experience much in Shanghai and Nanjing. We wrapped up the day with an afternoon visit to the Summer Palace located near the famous universities of Beijing. The Summer Palace was equally beautiful to The Great Wall. We headed back to proper Beijing in the evening, exhausted but thrilled by the experiences we had during the day.