Stairs on Stairs on Stairs

On June 25, 2012, in China Attractions, Cool Places, Historical Relics, Must-sees, by Jack Li

Today marks the third week since I got off the string of Beijing flights that I took on my way to China, and I’ve finally seen the Great Wall of China.  Whenever I contacted friends or family back in the US their first question whenever I mentioned that I was in China was always “have you […]

Today marks the third week since I got off the string of Beijing flights that I took on my way to China, and I’ve finally seen the Great Wall of China.  Whenever I contacted friends or family back in the US their first question whenever I mentioned that I was in China was always “have you seen the wall yet?”  No matter who you are, China travel is not complete without a trip to the Great Wall, and believe me, your friends and family will let you know it.

The Great Wall of China on a foggy dayWe went to the Mutianyu section of the wall, famous for the massive toboggan slide that you can ride down the side of it.  Unfortunately when we went it started raining and the slide was closed, so the thrill seekers amongst us were a tad disappointed.  Just seeing the slide from above was insane: it was massive, full of twists and turns, and led from the top of the wall down to ground level.  It looks epic, and I know I’m going to try to make it down again on a clearer day.

We quickly got over the rain, and faced the wall.  A few of us who are fans of barefoot running decided to tackle the wall barefoot rather than getting our shoes wet.  While I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone not experienced with barefoot running/walking, it was a lot of fun.  The stones were all smooth and cool from the rain and I felt connected to
the wall and the history behind it.  We also had great traction on the slippery stones.

As an upside of the rain, the wall was mostly empty when we climbed it.  We ran back and forth in both directions, scrambled up the steps, climbed up on rocks, and took an absurd amount of pictures.  Because of the clouds our pictures didn’t have the immense sweeping views that you can find online, but I like the fog, it adds a mythical feel to the wall.

The wall is incomprehensibly huge, and extremely high up on the mountain.  There are ski lifts that take you up, or you can make the hike up yourself.  Be sure to bring snacks and water, some are available on top of the wall but for a much higher price than on the ground.  The wall is a bit of a hike from Beijing, and if you have a big group like us it makes the most sense to rent a van for the day that will cart you to and from the wall.  There are also Beijing Tours that will take you to and from the wall if you’re in a smaller group, our just want a more guided experience.  Happy Hiking!

History Lesson – Great Wall (2/2)

On May 9, 2012, in Beijing, Great Wall, Historical Relics, by Jack Li

There is still more to know about the Great Wall’s history, the one site nobody wants to miss on their Beijing Tours. Read on for further information if you haven’t decided yet which places you want to see on your China Tours. The Great Wall is worth it! Nearly all of the following feudal dynasties […]

There is still more to know about the Great Wall’s history, the one site nobody wants to miss on their Beijing Tours. Read on for further information if you haven’t decided yet which places you want to see on your China Tours. The Great Wall is worth it!

Nearly all of the following feudal dynasties did some construction on the wall, repairing and extending it partly as a defense against invasion from the north. Southern and Northern Dynasties (420 – 589 AD) were a time of civil war and political chaos but art, culture and technology revived nonetheless. During this time some of those smaller dynasties worked on the wall but as a defence against each other and not in a joint effort. The following Sui Dynasty ended the division between the rivaling regimes. To improve the defense system the Great Wall was rebuilt and extended. On the one hand these projects were great accomplishments but on the other hand they were made at the expense of the workforce resulting once again in Chinese history in revolts and rebellions.

The following period was marked by several smaller and less important dynasties and kingdoms developing more or less independently from each other in the northern and southern parts referred to as the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. During the followong Tang Dynasty there was no need for the emperors to do construction on the wall to more than a minimal extent due to their superior power over northern nomad neighbors.

After generally serving its purpose for 1500 years the Mongolian emperor Kublai Khan took control over China in 1271 and proclaimed the Yuan Dynasty little later. With the foreign rule the northern border between the Chinese and the Mongolian territory ceased and with it also the necessity to reinforce the Great Wall. In the end famines, natural disasters as well as revolts and rebellions caused by political instability finally ended the domination of the foreign power towards the end of the 14th century. Zhu Yuanzhang, the rebel leader of the Red Turban Rebellion, became the first emperor of the following Ming Dynasty.

The Ming era in China were golden times in Chinese history marked by cultural exchange, political stability, economic prosperity and population growth. During this time enormous construction projects were in the center of attention, the Great Wall, the Grand Canal and the famous Forbidden City in Beijing being the most important ones. To prevent further invasion from the north the Great Wall was extended in a 100 year project. Many of the locations where visitors can see the wall are from these times, for example at Badaling or Mutianyu close to Beijing.

The Manchu took over control of Chinese territory in 1644 and founded the last dynasty in Chinese history, called Qing Dynasty. With this second foreign power in China the Great Wall lost once again its main purpose. Since then only the state has undertaken efforts to restore parts of it and has opened them to the public. The Great Wall is one of the most famous sights in China and a unique symbol of Chinese civilization. For this reason and with some facts about history in mind it’s worth seeing it for anyone going on China Tours.

History Lesson – Great Wall (1/2)

On May 9, 2012, in Beijing, Great Wall, Historical Relics, by Jack Li

The Great Wall is the must see for every visitor coming to Beijing and it is therefore an essential part of most Beijing Tours. By bus it takes between two and three hours from the city center depending on the location you want to go to. There are several ones, some more popular than others […]

The Great Wall is the must see for every visitor coming to Beijing and it is therefore an essential part of most Beijing Tours. By bus it takes between two and three hours from the city center depending on the location you want to go to. There are several ones, some more popular than others where you can see the wall in differently well preserved states. But this feeling you experience when you are there makes up for the wait. So, don’t miss this famous site on your China Tours.

Due to geological conditions Asian and western cultures developed almost independently from each other during long periods in history. Until today many details about Chinese history are unknown to visitors from western countries. Everybody knows about the Great Wall but few people are familiar with its long and interesting history so here is a quick overview.

Construction of the Great Wall began even before China’s first imperial dynasty in belligerent times, known as the Spring and Autumn Period and the following Warring States Period. These periods are part of the Eastern Zhou dynasty which was the last dynasty before the reunification of the territory and the first imperial dynasty.

During this time seven rivaling states fought against each other and built individual walls to defend their territory against the attack of the enemy states. Stamping earth, gravel and stones were the main materials of these walls. After more than 200 years of mightily fights the state called Qin became the most powerful one conquering other states and finally destroying them.

Their king, who became known as Shi Huangdi, founded the Qin dynasty (221-207 BC) and by uniting all seven states he became the first emperor of China. He decided to join the existing walls together and added some more sections as a defense against the northern tribes, Mongolian people being the most feared enemy. When this huge project was finished the wall had a total length of over 5,000 kilometers (about 3,100 miles) in an east to west line and its remainders still mark the historical northern border of China.

After the decline of the comparably short Qin dynasty the Han dynasty was founded (206 BC – 220 AD). It became one of China’s early golden ages, a time when the consolidation of the state lead to cultural, economical and technological glory. During this period the existing walls were reinforced and lengthened. At that point in time the Great Wall reached its longest extension with a total length of more than 8,000 kilometers (about 5,000 miles) including branching walls, tranches and natural barriers such as hills and rivers.

Many parts of this ancient man-made architectural masterpiece created in early times with unimaginable efforts has been a destination for many people interested in architecture, ancient sites and old civilization for numerous years. Many planned tours to the Great Wall even offer pick-up services from your Beijing Hotels so you can get there easily by coach.
Read part two for more history about the Great Wall.

Great Wall of China

On December 21, 2010, in Beijing, Cultural Experience, Must-sees, by Jack Li

On your next Beijing Tours the or on even as part of your China Tours the Great Wall is a trip that will leave your breathless and awestruck. Having just visited the site of one of the Modern Wonders of the World, its immensity leaves you with no doubt that it should be so called. […]

On your next Beijing Tours the or on even as part of your China Tours the Great Wall is a trip that will leave your breathless and awestruck. Having just visited the site of one of the Modern Wonders of the World, its immensity leaves you with no doubt that it should be so called. The Great Wall of China was listed as a World Heritage by UNESCO in 1987. Just like a chinese dragon, the Great Wall winds up and down across the landscape, traversing deserts, grasslands, mountains and plateaus, stretching approximately 5,500 miles from east to west of China. With a history of more than 2000 years, some of the sections are now in ruins or have disappeared. However, it is still one of the most appealing attractions all around the world owing to its architectural grandeur and historical significance and around 1.5 million people flock here every year to marvel in its splendour.

The Great Wall has three main sections that you can visit from Beijing, the Badaling, Mutianyu and Jinshanling and Simatai sections.

Badaling

The most popular section of the Great Wall that gets visited year after year is 50 miles northwest of Beijing. This area has seen a large increase in development, including hotels, restaurants and a cable car; this is most likely why it is the most visited section of the wall. This part of the wall has undergone the heaviest restoration and has only been open to tourists for the last 53 years, the first section of the wall to do so. The easiest way to get here is either to hire a taxi for the day, which if you have some good bargaining skills can cost 400RMB whilst on the meter it would be around 800RMB. Or if your personal bargaining skills are not so good I would recommend the Badaling Expressway which connects Badaling with central Beijing.

Mutianyu

The second section of the wall is not as popular as the Badaling section but it is the best quality and has the largest construction scale of any section of the wall.  Like the Badaling section, Mutianyu has a cable car for those who are not able to walk the Great Wall section, which takes about 2hrs depending on your fitness. However, unlike the Badaling, Jinshanling and Simatai sections, Mutianyu contains a metal toboggan ride that you can ride down from the wall.

Jinshanling and Simatai

Even though this is not the most visited section of the Great Wall, the Jinshanling and Simatai is the most authentic of the available sections near Beijing. However, this is a day hike from one section of the wall to the other, so if your unfit I wouldn’t recommend this. It boasts the most breathtaking scenery of the three sections and is more isolated. So if you do not like crowds this part of the wall is for you.

So when you are on your Beijing Tours, take the day to visit this amazing piece of architecture and culture that has survived the test of time.

The Depths of the Great Wall of China

The Depths of The Great Wall of China The Great Wall of China is roughly an hour journey away from Beijing. In a group of five, we set off to the Bus Station by taxi from our China Hotels using China Travel. From there we boarded the bus to ‘Mutianyu’ which is a small village […]

The Depths of The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China is roughly an hour journey away from Beijing. In a group of five, we set off to the Bus Station by taxi from our China Hotels using China Travel. From there we boarded the bus to ‘Mutianyu’ which is a small village near the Great Wall. It was interesting as we gazed out of our windows most of the time and looked at the scenery of Beijing’s landscape, culture and beauty.

The bus dropped us off in a small village 20km away from Mutianyu and we then flagged a taxi down to take us to our desired destination. We negotiated and bargained with the taxi man to give us a good price for the ride there and eventually after a long discussion we managed to get a good price and arrived in a small minibus. The roads there were not fully developed although most are concrete payment, but huge holes in the ground made us jump around a lot in the taxi, it was fun so using China Tours would definitely be the best option for a more comfortable ride.

So we finally got to the Great Wall, ahead of time we stopped off for some food at a nearby restaurant and we dined into some Chinese cuisine. It was traditional style Chinese food with a variety of foods to choose from and gave us a boost of energy for the upcoming trek. We then walked up a large hill and came across the ticket box to purchase our entrance, sky lift, and toboggan lift tickets. It was surrounded with heaps of cultural stalls and attractions to interest tourists and people in with souvenirs and gifts to purchase. This felt intense as you were bombarded with hundreds of people trying to sell you something. But eventually to our glee and to some extent- exhaustion, we made it to the sky lift and made our way up to the Great Wall of China.

At last! Standing and seeing an ancient and most preserved wonder of the world! It felt great and good to be witnessing something extraordinary. I took lots of pictures and videos, and for some reason started thinking about life. It really does amaze you once you are up there in the mountains and seeing something powerful, its beauty at its best. We walked the wall until the very end of its capable and safety limit which took us around two hours to do. The Wall itself is actually thousands of miles long so we couldn’t see all of it as it would probably take us a year to do. So getting here with a good pair of shoes is better for long distance walking especially on the Great Wall of China.

After an eventful and enjoyable day, we turned around and began our journey back. This involved taking a toboggan ride down the last hills of the Great Wall. It was great and so much fun when you slide down, it’s like one big roller coaster! Once down the mountains, we got a minibus back to Beijing city and ended our day. This is was fun also as it gives you a chance to relax on your way home from a long and tiring but exhilarating day out. This is one trip that should be experienced by everyone and is truly something different and special. For more information, I would recommend China Flights to create a package.

The Great Wall of China

On October 12, 2010, in Beijing, Great Wall, Must-sees, by Jack Li

Nothing can prepare you for the amazing sight of the Great wall, I saw it in the distance and stared at it in awe!  I have  dreamt of      visiting  this attraction for years and never thought I would ever get the chance. I decided not to take the traditional tourist route by  coach  (which […]

Nothing can prepare you for the amazing sight of the Great wall, I saw it in the distance and stared at it in awe!  I have  dreamt of      visiting  this attraction for years and never thought I would ever get the chance. I decided not to take the traditional tourist route by  coach  (which can be provided by China tours)  but  opted for chinese public transport which turned out to be a lot more chaotic and  life  threatening than first anticipated! The bus leaves  once an hour every morning between 7.00 and 9.00 and returns  each afternoon  between 15.00 and 17.00. I learnt very  quickly that the  usual queuing system does not apply in china its  more like a crazy rat race to see  who can push their way onto the bus  first! I succeeded  and actually got a seat unlike  some of the members of my party who had to  endure an 2 and a half hour hot bus ride  stood up… it was an  experience to  say the least! I was relieved to finally arrive at the wall  although it was a bit of a trek from the bus park to the starting  point of the wall.

The part of the wall that I decided to visit was called Mutianyu which I read beforehand was the most preserved part of  the wall. There is an option to take a 2 hour hike up to the wall however I opted to take the rather more relaxed Chairlift  which costs about £90 Yuan return. The chairlift slowly hoisted me up to the wall over immense scenery of a lush  woodland area it was a really clear day so I could see for miles across Beijing it was breath taking. After about 5  minuets I was ready to take my first momentous step onto the wall which was exciting. as I looked out I was able to see  the great wall winding round in the distance up and down it seemed like it went on forever.

The wall was so high I points I felt a bit dizzy but it was incredible to be stood almost 26feet high above the ground with the gargantuan lofty mountains in the back ground. I couldn’t have wished for better weather there was not a cloud in the sky it was very warm a perfect day for walking.I have heard that it’s very beautiful to go up in winter because the wall looks amazing in the snow.

One of the most bizarre sights I saw whilst I was up there was people selling refreshments at the side of the wall local Chinese people have put up stalls and you can buy coke,chocolate even ice-cream. There are also a lot of dogs and children roaming about!

The Mutianyu  part of the wall covers about 1.4 miles and is about 5 yards wide this part of the wall is very commercial which has been repaired and reconstructed many times , however there are some parts which have been left to age beautifully and in many location where the wall is in disrepair.

As I walked across the wall every so often their was a beacon tower which you could go inside and sometimes up to the top. I walked the full length of the wall which took about 3 hrs with lots of stopping to take pictures!

There are many different ways to get down from the wall: chairlift,cable car or toboggan

I decided to take the fast past thrilling toboggan and was not disappointed. Its like a small go cart with a leaver to go faster or slower as it is all down hill the pace is rather fast but very exciting! It’s a definite for the more daring visitors to the wall!

At the bottom of the Great wall there is a very busy and interesting Street market which sells every Great wall memrablila  you could possible want or carry.  A great tip is not to take the first price your offered you have to barter as prices start incredibly high!!

If you would like to take a simlar tour here or any other place in China the best place that i’ve found for booking flights and coach tours is china travel. Also if you want to have a really good look round Beijing and learn about the history I suggest you look at Beijing Tours.

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