The Great Wall of China


The Great Wall of China is definitely a must see for any trip to China. Our visit to the wall was the section nearest to the city of Beijing.  This is one of the best maintained sections of the Great Wall and is a popular tourist destination.

The Great Wall of China is the longest structure ever built by humans.  One survey found that the entire wall with all of its branches measures over 13,000 miles. The wall is not one long continuous structure, but is made up of a number of different sections.  Because of destruction from the forces of nature and mankind less than 30% of the wall remains in good condition.

The wall itself was built over several generations by various dynasties. The  wall as we know it today was built mostly during the Ming Dynasty.

Our visit to the wall began when the taxi driver who had been arranged to take us to the wall picked us up at our son’s apartment. Four of us plus the driver set out to the north of Beijing in his Hyundai taxi. Traffic in Beijing is an amazing thing in itself. Somehow five lanes of traffic plus many people riding bicycles seem to fit into four traffic lanes. I think I’m glad that I do not speak Mandarin, or I might have been shocked at some of the things drivers shouted as horns blared and traffic flowed.

Our driver seemed to find it quite funny that we were as out of shape as we were.  He actually pointed this out to us as we walked up the stairs to the cable car for our trip to the top of the wall. I do want to note that he stayed at the bottom with the car rather than climbing the wall itself.

More from International Travel

When we got off the cable car we were in a little area next to the actual wall itself. It was just a few steps up onto the wall and then you had the choice of heading to your left or right to see more of the wall itself. We took off to the left and proceeded in an upward direction. You are pretty high up since you are not only at the top of the wall, but you are on the top of a mountain. The combination of high altitude and being in less than excellent shape made it a bit of a chore for me to follow my sons as we went higher and higher on the wall.

We would walk several yards on the wall’s surface going slightly up, then reach stairs that took us up even higher. At each set of stairs, I would stop and think about turning back. Each time I decided I would try one more climb. I’m not sure how many of these decisions I made before we got to a set of stairs that climbed high up the wall to the final destination for this part of the wall. Having made it this far I decided I had to go to the top. I would go about six steps before I had to stop and rest. My sons were doing a bit better, but they did not complain about stopping to wait on me.

When we got to the top we had a great view, well worth the climb. We also found a young Chinese lady there selling post cards of the wall. I asked her if she took the cable car up from the base and she informed me that she climbed all the way from the bottom on foot every day.  Wow.

As we stood around enjoying our view and resting for our return trip down, we saw a family jogging up the final length of stairs to the summit. Yes, I said jogging. It turned out the family was from Dallas, Texas but had once lived in Atlanta. It is a small world after all.

I made it back down the wall with a lot less effort than the trip up took. It is an adventure that I will never forget and one that I recommend for anyone who is able to visit China.

Don’t forget to purchase one of the “I walked on the Great Wall of China” t-shirt.

Next: Winter Beach Trips: Hilton Head Island, SC

More from TripSided