There are 12 sections of the Great Wall within Beijing. So far, Ben and I have completed 7 of them. We’re hoping to get to as close to all 12 completed before our time is done here in Beijing (but a couple are questionable due to the safety of the structure, so we’ll see!).
Exploring the Wall
The last time we went to the Great Wall, we went to the Juyongguan section which is about an hour outside of the city towards Badaling (the most popular section of the Great Wall for Chinese tourists).
This time, we decided to visit the Shuiguan section (the water pass) which is just after Juyongguan and just before Badaling. It took us about an hour and fifteen minutes to get there. The drive there is pretty easy and straight forward. The exit and parking lot are both well-marked and easy to find.
Before going to a new section of the Wall, I like to read up on the section a little bit so I can find out if there are any important tips to know (like which is the best route to take or what to expect).
After reading about Juyongguan, I found out it was recommended that we do the east side first because the west side was extremely steep. I’m so glad that I had looked that up!
I did the same for Shuiguan and found out it was recommended to take the West side instead of the East side for an easier climb.
We got there and looked at the map. The west side had the five watch towers open compared to only two on the east side.
We decided to stick with the recommendation of doing the west side since it was suitable for older people and children whereas the eastern side was suited for younger people in shape. We didn’t want to push ourselves with the summer heat, so we thought that made our decision easy.
Not Quite So Accurate
Boy, when we saw the Wall, both sides looked steep! We still went west and began our climb (along with quite a few other people).
Up, up, up Right Away!
This section of the Wall does not ease you into the climb. Straight away you are climbing straight up. It was so intense. After that first steep climb, then came another and another. (Yes, we did have to stop several times along the way). I’m glad I came prepared with lots of water.
You know that the Wall is steep if they have handrails to hold onto for your climb up and descent down. Some of those steps were so huge that it made taking them more difficult.
These pictures just don’t quite show how steep it was!
You Never Know What You Might See…
I couldn’t believe how many kids and older people there were climbing. Kudos to them! I definitely don’t think this is the one I would be opt to if I had kids or was older.
I couldn’t believe the outfits some people wore. Dresses, dress shoes, sandals. How can you hike in them?
I couldn’t believe how many souvenir stands there were at this section. My goodness! I read it was the least crowded of these three sections (Juyongguan, Shuiguan, and Badaling) but it seemed to be more geared towards tourists here than Juyongguan.
*Side note: You probably could visit all three sections of these Walls in one day if you were limited in time in Beijing. I’d probably do Badaling first since it’s the most popular and work my way back (although I don’t know if it’s easier in the car to stop at Juyongguan first and go from there based on how the roads are set up out that way).
By the way, saw this in one of the towers in case you needed to be reminded…
And sadly people do need that reminder (although, it’s not followed as I saw a little boy was given toilet paper to go potty right next to that sign. *sigh*)
In Other News
I think I may start charging 10 kuai a picture. What do you think? 😉 We got asked to have our picture taken a few times (and then I got two hugs after some kids took their pictures with us…awkward).
Like I said earlier, this section of the Wall was more geared towards tourists than I expected.
There were three camels set up at three different parts of the Wall. They seemed quite content just standing there (until someone wanted to sit and take a picture on them…like me). I
got to sit on one, take a spin around the stand, and get my picture taken. It was soft and cool to sit in-between the two humps. I’d like to really ride one one day.
Even though we were just 3km from the Badaling section of the Great Wall, we opted to come back on another day to explore that part. I used my binoculars to see what looked like an army of ants marching up and down the Wall (we figured it had to be Badaling). Yeah, I definitely did not want to do that climb with those crowds. We’ve got to go on a weekday during off-season to make it a bit more enjoyable.
TOTE: Keep saying to yourself, “I think I can, I think I can” and you can climb some pretty impressive hills!