Thursday, March 18, 2010

Beijing Diary Day 3 Great Wall of China

Our midweek China series continues on to... The Great Wall of China, view all posts here. I have heard many stories and seen numerous pictures of The Great Wall but I never dreamt I would someday set foot on it, this is definitely a dream come true.

There are several sections of the wall that were renovated though Badaling is the most popular of them all. I wanted to see the less visited Mutianyu or Jinshanling or Simatai, where the views are prettier but the hotel staff were more familiar with Badaling. There was a couple of transfers to get to Badaling bus 919, which turned out to be a rather illusive one.

At the last transfer, there was a whole row of bus stops that say 919 but none goes to the wall, so we kept asking. Finally a man told us that Badaling bus 919 stopped running at 10 am and he could take us in his taxi for 300 RMB. He offered the same deal to a couple from London and 2 local girls were quoted 160 RMB. He said the 6 of us could rent the whole car at a reduced rate.

We all doubted him as the travel book and the internet says the buses ran all day and the tickets are 12 RMB per person, so 300 RMB for two seemed unreal. The scam went on for half an hour until 2 young men came up to us and said this happened to them yesterday, the bus we're looking for is just around the corner. So off we went and found our bus. What a relief!! That would be quite an adventure if we had gone with the taxi! As we queued up, the swindlers continued to harass others, it was a good thing we did our research and trusted our instincts when things looked fishy.

The view out the window, some fascinating buildings on the Badaling Expressway.
Farmhouses and cultivated lands by the highway.
The bus stopped a couple of times to pick up more visitors. Some interesting faces from a neighboring bus, the ladies with the head scarves, where are they from?
We arrived at the Badaling destination about an hour later. The bus dropped us off just outside the parking lot, we were told where they would pick us up. Visitors were strongly reminded to keep a good watch on the time as there will be no bus service after 5 pm.

The parking lot were lined with tourists shops, we noticed these visitors browsing, their facial features and clothes captivated us.
Just past the ticket office is a tea shop, some tourists were given white caps to distinguish them from other tour groups.
Off in the distance, the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics slogan One World One Dream, this part of the wall was full of tourists.
We chose a much quieter part.
The wall was built to fend off Northern attacks. The view from one of the watch towers, as far as the eye can see.
The steps were very steep, some were a couple of feet high, I had to stop to catch my breath on the way up. Going down was a bit harder, hand rails and small talk took the edge away.
Back in town, the bell tower where the Badaling 919 buses were parked.
The row of bus 919 stations where the cheats hung around.
On our way back to the hotel, a shot inside the Beijing Subway car. As it moves, the tunnel walls flashed LED advertisements which we viewed through the windows. Back at the hotel, we felt pleased to cross this venue off our list. A simple dinner at a nearby eatery, hot shower and off to bed.


  1. The cheats were the reasons why Suanne and I decided at the last moment against going to China last summer. We went to Spain instead but China is where I wanted to go see and eat (Beijing-Shanghai-Xian). The cheatings and safety will surely ruin a perfectly good vacation and we decided that we just do not need that. We don't want to go with a tour group (which would have been safer) as it is too restrictive. Thanks again for sharing your vacation. Am looking forward to next week's posting!

  2. Hi Ben and Suanne, I posted about this so people are aware of it. When we were planning for our trip, we came across some unpleasant incidents via the internet. We knew this can happen (things can happen here at home too, let's be realistic) so we were not worried and instead prepared ourselves by remaining alert at all times. Public transportation was cautioned against due to pickpockets but like you, we want to do our own exploration. We had 2 cameras, 2 lens, a camcorder and a labtop, plus cash and passports we carried on us during the month long trip and nothing bad happened because we were very alert.

  3. Wow, what an excellent adventure.

  4. China is so interesting, I would love to go some time. Great pictures, the people look so serene and the wall is bigg and beautiful. Have a great time :)

  5. Hi, the photo of the women in the bus is beautiful!