Nothing better than a good walk on a Sunday morning. Well, for me every day was “Sundays,” but Sunday was even more Sunday. In the morning before taking the tour bus, I went from the hostel to a luxury hotel a five minute walk to clean my bowels in a decent bathroom. I entered a bathroom that had the “western style” sign affixed to the door, long live the “throne”! There was also the “Chinese style”, but i wasn’t used to “doing things” crouching over a hole in the ground. Phew, that was quite a relief!!! I left the hotel with a slight smile of happiness on my face. Certain things are priceless, and happiness is one of them!
The Great Wall of China is truly an impressive work! You don’t see where it starts or where it ends, it snaking through the top of the endless mountains. It was built, repaired and rebuilt during various phases and dynasties, began in the 5th century BC and the last part to be built was in the sixteenth century, that is, over 2,000 years. The purpose was to protect against northern raids, each emperor emphasized in certain part of the Wall, which extends non-continuously from the northeast to the northwest of the country for 6400km, having some ramifications.
Qin Shi Huang Di, the emperor who unified China in 221 BC, placed great emphasis on the construction of the Wall. Later other dynasties (Han, Wei, Qi, Sui) continued the work, the last part being built in the Ming dynasty in the 14th century. As the Wall passes through various lands and types of soil, various types of materials were employed, such as stones, wood, clay, straw and bricks. An estimated 1 million people were employed, including soldiers, prisoners, slaves and widows, and about 200,000 people would have died during construction. It was seen as a symbol of tyranny, which consumed the wealth of the nation and the lives of the damned.
I took a tour with other “gringos” that took three hours by bus to get to the part of the Great Wall known as Simatai (120km from Beijing), as there are several stretches to get to know. Simatai is the most appreciated part of the Wall by adventurous backpackers and less known to traditional tourists for requiring greater fitness and being further away from Beijing. I chose this excerpt following the recommendation of another Canadian backpacker I met at the base of Mount Fuji in Japan, and for not wanting all the local crowd getting in the way of my photos and walking. Backpackers always exchange important information and ideas. Most tourists end up going to the stretch of Badaling, by a sound coincidence is the hottest, having been restored and being possible to reach with public bus. Other excerpts include Mutianyu, Juyongguan, Jinshanling, Jiankou, Huanghua, etc… this only in the Beijing region.
I walked for four hours, it was a very strenuous walk between “ups” and “downs” and the “zigzags” of the mountain. They were 30 towers traveled, the first 15 were the most difficult, only climbing up, then it was easy from the second half to the end. Some parts were in the original state, without restoration and in ruins. The view was fantastic, the weather was warm and without rain. Another dream come true! I took great pictures. The bus dropped us off at the entrance to the first tower and picked us up near the thirtieth tower.
The return, as expected the bad driver of the bus decided to hit another bus, no surprise to me, glad it was not serious. The bus drivers here drive like crazy, have a habit of ringing the annoying horn every three seconds and making very dangerous overtaking. I was in such a bad mood with such incompetence and for not being able to sleep on the bus. In China there are a few driving schools, who knows it is not a promising market for investments!