Ahhh the Great Wall of China. You probably think of how it can be seen from space. I think of queue jumping in epic proportions. Humph. The day started well. In fact it was all quite funny – just before we climbed onto The Wall, a Chinese girl came up and asked to have a photo with me and my boyfriend. Of course we happily obliged. Then another person wanted a photo with us. Then a queue started to form…. We were happy to do photos at first, but after a while I realised we weren’t actually going to see the wall but would spend all day being an “alternative” tourist attraction next to the Great Wall. (And if you’re wondering why anyone would want photos with me and my BF… well, quite!)
After we extracted ourselves from that situation, I waited for my BF as he popped to the toilet. While I waited, a lady tried to sell me something. I politely said no. She offered me something else. I said no. She then proceeded to go through every single item she was selling, offering them to me individually, including a pack of postcards. So we had to go through every picture postcard before she realised I really didn’t want to buy anything, bless her. It did make me smile! You can’t blame a gal for trying!
After all that faffing we finally got onto The Wall. It was really steep in places, so I would definitely advise wearing shoes you can walk (and grip) in, NOT heels!
Again, on the wall, a man asked if he could have his photo taken with my boyfriend (this lot weren’t interested in me!). His friend then had his photo with my BF. I’m not sure if they thought he was a film-star or something?! There must be loads of photos all over China featuring my BF with random Chinese people! 🙂 (This also happened in Cusco, Peru. Very weird!)
The Wall was very touristy when we arrived (as you can see from the first photo), but the crowds thinned out throughout the day, and by around 4pm it was much quieter. Little did we know that every man and his wife was joining the bus queue…
We had trouble getting back from the wall on the public bus. The queue system was like the Wimbledon queue, except without the rope barriers, the order, the queue etiquette, or the politeness. So it was nothing like the Wimbledon queue. This was every man for himself.
We were like a rock in the middle of a river, with people rushing past us, joining the queue from the side, etc. It was impossible to do anything about it, and I almost cried when after 2 hours of queuing in the cold we were still in the same place (ie. at the back!).
Once we eventually got on a bus, it was standing room only. This entailed standing for the duration of the 1 hour journey to Beijing, physically pressed against a Chinese girl (who had space on the other side of her but did not seem to want to move up the bus!). I am a massive fan of public transport, but with the beauty of hindsight, I would probably just get a taxi. Sadly the hours of chaos that we spent queuing in the cold with our feet hurting are how we remember that day, and I would rather remember it as the day we went to the Great Wall of China!! For that very reason, I have crafted some tips on how to get to the great wall of China ont’ bus (in next blog).
Overall, I’m really glad I visited the Great Wall and I would definitely recommend it. If you are going, I would suggest either planning a different way back (eg a taxi), or visiting a different part of the wall. We went to Badaling, which is one of the nearest to Beijing, so is very busy. It might be worth travelling a little bit further to reach another stretch of wall, eg. Mutianyu.
Next blog: How to get to the Great Wall of China on Public Bus
Previous blog: Beijing, China