I must say, it’s pretty cool being able to visit the Great Wall more than just once (or twice or three times)! In the past two weeks, I’ve been to the Great Wall three times (and to three different sections). When there is nice weather here, you want to take advantage. Since we got some nice weather, we decided to check out a new section of the Wall with some friends.
I talked to another friend who recently visited the Gubeikou section, which is an unrestored section, so we decided to check it out. My friend used a driver to take her there but since we have our car, we drove ourselves. We learned that maybe a driver would have figured out where we needed to go, but then again, we wouldn’t have had an adventure!
We arrived to the village of Gubeikou with no issues. Once we got to the town, we could see the Wall on both sides of us. However, our GPS was no longer of help as we couldn’t find an entrance up to it. After driving around and checking out both sides of the town (there’s a creek to cross over), I decided we needed to ask someone how to get to the Wall (I didn’t want to waste our time with more driving around aimlessly). I’ve been enjoying practicing my Chinese some more and was able to figure out that we could park our car where we were and walk up to the Wall from there.
I think I was the only one in the group excited about this adventure. We started walking for the Wall through the town that then led us to a path (or a goat path my husband says) to take us up to the Wall. I love hiking, so I thought it was great (at least one of us in the group did!). As we hiked, we could see the Wall, but couldn’t figure out how to get up on it. Eventually, we ended up crossing paths with some stairs that led us to the top.
Now, this part of the Wall was completely different than other parts. You really couldn’t tell you were on the Wall because it was basically just a dirt path now. We walked along and could look out over the town and on the other side of the Wall. Once our path ended, we took the stairs back down and ended up on the other end of the town by some temples. I thought it was pretty cool!
Afterwards (after calling my friend to see where she went), we tried going across the street to find the actual paid entrance to the Gubeikou section. We had no such luck and ended up getting stuck in a huuuuggee police checkpoint line. Since the day was still early and the line wasn’t moving, we decided to turn around and return to the Jinshanling section of the Great Wall.
I did learn later that we actual did hike some of Gubeikou. There are two different sections-Panlongshan and Wohushan. We hiked the Panlongshan section, so we’ll have to go back another day to try the Wohushan section!
Back to Jinshanling
It was just a gorgeous day. The last time we were at Jinshanling, we went to the left. This time, we tried going right and I’m glad we did! To the right is the unrestored section of the Wall. We walked as far as you could (eventually, it’s blocked off due to a military zone).
This is one perk of living in Beijing-exploring so many parts of the Great Wall. Each one is interesting and different. It’s also nice going back and exploring different parts of the same sections. I’m learning good loops to do if we bring family to visit.
And again to Jinshanling
My parents and brother came to visit, so we headed to Jinshanling one day while they were in town, since it is my favorite section of the Wall. It was another gorgeous day. Since it was during the week, it was super quiet there. That was great, but the only downside to that is that everyone flocked to us wanting us to buy something from them. We had a couple people follow us on on hike up the Wall. They wouldn’t leave no matter how polite I tried to be, so I eventually had to tell them in Chinese to go away and that they weren’t a part of our group. We just wanted to enjoy the Wall to ourselves. We hiked a little bit of both ways, so my family could see the restored and unrestored sections. After that hike, I learned of a foot path you could take up (or the cable car if it is running), that would make for a nice loop around instead of backtracking.
Again, since my family was visiting and we had the time, we took them to the most popular section of the Wall for Foreign tourists-Mutianyu. This is the section with a cable car and chair lift and toboggan.
We lucked out again that we had such a nice day weather and air quality-wise. Plus, it wasn’t so crowded either, which was a plus! We opted to take the chair lift up (like a ski lift). Once you get to the top, be prepared to have your picture taken. It was a nice picture, so I purchased it for 30 yuan (~4). We then started hiking.
Since Ben and I took the cable car up last time, which took us to tower 14, and we hiked to the left as far as we could, this time, the chair lift took us to tower 6. (If you are afraid of heights and/or don’t do well with ski lifts, this is not for you. Take the cablecar which is enclosed.) We hiked a bit to the left first (that was steep!!!) and then continued back the other way towards the cablecar.
Note: Because you can just purchase single tickets, next time family visits, I would do the cablecar up (you get a nice view of the Wall that way), hike to the right towards the toboggan, and then then take the toboggan down. (See, I keep learning as we continue to explore!).
After we finished up with our hike, we took the toboggan back down. Ben and I didn’t get to do this in November since it was cold, so I was excited for it this time (and maybe a little nervous). Once we got started though, I had no reason to be nervous. It’s very tame. You control the speed and it felt like the breaks were built in. Hopefully, you don’t get stuck behind someone pokey because they can really slow you down!
TOTE: Life’s an adventure–enjoy it!