Well, we made it !!! I mean, isn’t this why people come to China??? I have been impressed with our whole experience so far, but the Great Wall Is the cherry on top of the ice cream sundae !!!
We left Beijing on a two hour drive in the early morning. Because it was a Sunday, many of the “locals” also go, and our guide pointed out that they like to get to the Wall very early. So we actually started our day at the Summer Palace (to be reviewed next) and waited until after lunch. And we got lucky… Blue sky, low wind, and small crowds.
Let me digress a bit… The Great Wall was built in sections over the past 2000 years. It crossed 17 Provinces, and there are areas where mountains acted as a natural boundary and therefore no Wall was needed. The Wall was built by millions of workers, often political prisoners. And it never acted as much of a deterrent for opposing forces. Ghengis Khan simply rode around it when he captured Beijing in the 1200s. The Wall has wasted away to almost nothing in areas like the Gobi Desert. And it deteriorated further during WWII and the subsequent revolution. Mao didn’t care much for it and suggested peasants use the fortifications as building materials. His successor, Deng Xiaoping, ordered that the Wall be restored and placed under government protection. One more interesting tidbit…While the Wall was built for military use, it also allowed a wonderful transport system of goods through mountain passes.
To get to our particular section of the Wall, we walked through a welcome set of shops, got on a shuttle bus, walked up a relatively steep incline, and finally took a gondola up the mountain. The reality that the Wall was built on the ridge line of the mountain is a technological marvel. AND it goes and goes. Mrs Bear and I walked about a mile, saw perhaps five miles before it disappeared over the mountain top. As I said earlier, millions needed to build it!!!
Not much else to say that another pic can’t overwhelm. Had to leave this perfect place and day way too soon!!!