I hiked the Great Wall of China on a three day trek in a cold February in 2008. I joined a group of other intrepid explorers, waking at sunset for the 4 hours drive north to a lesser known area of the wall. The hawking of goods started immediately. For the entire journey, we had people following us, trying to sell us overpriced pop, beers and postcards. Every time we stopped for a breather, they would shove them in our face. These were not young folks either and they were obviously far fitter than us! If I’m honest, I think most of us brought something from there by the end. Props where deserved.
The most touristy part of the wall is an area called Badaling. This is safe and has plenty of hand rails. It doesn’t, however, look like this:
We visited an area called the Jinshanling section of the Great Wall. It hasn’t been reconstructed (obvs) and the views were amazing. It actually took ages to climb and at times we were almost on our hands and knees. I was stumbling around all over the shop.
We stayed in a hostel that looked like something out of Chernobyl. The area was like a creepy, deserted theme park. Maybe it was the weather, or may it was out of season. Either way, it was eerie. We stayed up late into the night, drinking beer and playing cards. Some people woke up early the next morning to watch the sunrise. I must confess that it was too early for me and I was far too tired (*cough*…maybe hungover).
Best part? The zip-wire off of the wall. It looked rickety, unsafe and a builder from the UK refused to go anywhere near it after a brief inspection. It was however 2. Of course I went on it. It was pretty terrifying but totally worth it. The water below was frozen and the wind on my face was icy. Totally worth it though!