So yeah, so much for a week! I actually wrote a post about my return from home and such and then realized I didn’t post my Great Wall photos, so I will do this first before finishing the other one up which will have some of the deets I’m leaving out here.
I went to Beijing on my way home in January to see my friend Monica, but took one day to go to the Great Wall as it’s been eluding me all last year.
I stayed at the Heyuan Garden Hostel in Beijing as it’s closer to my friend’s house. It’s super clean and quiet so I think it’s my new favorite Beijing hostel and I highly recommend it! I stayed in the dorm room and it’s one of the best I’ve been to in China. The rooms have 4 beds (two bunks) and one clean bathroom for each room. This means no nasty ass floor restrooms. I find that people are more respectful of others and tidy when the bathroom to person ratio is lower. There is more accountability this way. Foreigners and Chinese alike have potential so no one is safe!
I also find these smaller hostels tend to have less “party animals” and it helps that this one is far from Sanlitun. Sanlitun is a big club and bar area so those who are going to drink and party are likely going to stay closer to the clubs so they can walk back or have cheaper taxi fares. So, needless to say, I loved this nice peaceful hostel on the other side of the city center from the bulk of clubs. The food, drink, and laundry prices were also pretty reasonable compared to many other hostels I’ve stayed at.
Anyway, so to my Great Wall trip: Like most Chinese hostel tours, I was picked up from my hostel which means it was quite convenient and easy compared to having to prepare everything myself. It’s also likely cheaper to be in a group than to go privately.
I chose the Mutianyu (慕田峪) section of the Great Wall because it’s the middle ground in price, distance, restoration, and number of average visitors at any given moment. There are more than 3 choices for wall sections, I’m sure, but usually at hostels there are 3 options.
Badaling (八达岭) is the cheapest, closests, adn the most restored. Because of the factors, I hear that it tends to be the most crowded. Of course I would expect it to be less crowded in winter anyway, but whatevs.
The most expensive, furthest, and least restored section is Jinshanling (金山岭). If you want to see the least “artificial” section, this is a good choice. Because it’s further and a bit more expensive, it tends to have less visitors so it’s pretty nice if you want more wall to yourself. I have heard and read that of the three, this one is also the most challenging hike, so it’s best for the more physically able sadists who decide that legs are overrated.
So yeah, the day was pretty chilly, but the walk was still pretty hard even if it wasn’t the worst. I met a pretty cool Chinese dude so I had someone to chat with and practice my Mandarin. His English was better than my Chinese, but I still tried.
At Mutianyu, you can walk up the mountain but then you’d have virtually no time on the wall itself, so obviously I took the cable car up and down. Interestingly enough, I was in the same cable car as Bill Clinton is 1998. There were a few marked ones showing notable people who’ve ridden in specific cars including the one ridden by Barack Obama.
For the wall itself, obviously the winter foliage isn’t the most breathtaking and that’s the only big drawback to going in winter, but I didn’t go for pretty photos, I went because I must. While the landscape was very brown, it still was quite breathtaking in itself. I just cannot fathom how ancient people built this. I just CAN’T.
In my photos you can see a big ass set of stairs. They were the worst. They look tall in the photo, but TRUST YOU ME, in reality they were far taller and harder. I died a little, but the view from the top if where the best photos were taken, including my shameless selfie.
Anywho, dinner was included with the total tour price so I got a well-deserved meal at the end of it before returning.. and my god I scarfed it down like a hungry wolverine.
I am going to work on the post I had already written and adjust it. It should be done tonight as well!