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Gap Year 2004

Gap Year 2004 - Great Wall of China |

Extract from my Gap Year Diary:

'Had an even earlier start today, waking up at 6.30 in preperation for our trip to the Great Wall of China at Simatai. We were supposed to get the bus there at 7.30, so we headed to the lobby quarter of an hour beforehand just to be sure. We sat down on the comfy large sofas and waited patiently for the bus driver to arrive.....7.30.......8.00.......8.30 - by the time 9am arrived, we were getting a little concerned. 9.30am, and the bus driver finally arrives looking out of breath, shouting "Simatai Simatai!". We shot up, took our seats on the bus and headed on our way. We didn't know what to expect really; due to his tardiness, would our trip be cut short by 2 hours? We didn't know.......

The driver picked up 2 other travellers from another Hostel before hitting the carriageway out of the City. The trip took us through some colourful towns filled with some interesting architecture. We arrived at Simatai junction at around half 12, where we headed straight away to get our tickets for the Wall. I got my first glimpse of the Wall at this point and it looked simply stunning. The age old structure winding through magestic hills with the bright blue sky as a back drop, superb.

As we hopped off the bus, I notcied the path which winds up the first of 13 'towers' at Simatai. On the left of our region was a winding river with a dam & a chain bridge over to the other side of the Wall.

We reached the first tower after a pretty sharp incline. Each tower had a small viewing point, obviously used as a lookout by Soldiers back in the days of War between China and Mongolia. The view was remarkable, for miles on end in each and every direction was just a fantastic array of peaks and valleys, not a hint of civilisation in just took your breath away.

After leaving the first tower, the incline got steeper and steeper; quite a bit of exercise for the legs and lungs! We took some outstanding pictures of the 360 degree views, a just reward for our hard work walking up it! We continued through the towers with small breaks for crisps and water before reaching tower 11! A fairly long walk, but well worth it. We had heard some crazy stories from other travellers that after tower 13, a small man will approach you, warning you of the danger of falling rocks and slippery slopes, obviously in his dialect of Mandarin..... apparently he is there everyday just shouting at people. It would have been great to see him but we simply didn't have enough time (cheers bus driver :P)

We descended with a couple of Swedish girls we met on the way up and bought some noodles - a bit of warmth was in order after all the extremely fresh cold air. We got back into the bus at 4.30 (only 4 hours at the wall) and headed home, arriving in Beijing 3 hours later. A chilled night in Beijing was in order after our mammoth day at the Great Wall - and what a day it was.....visiting some of the oldest parts of the wall (not the new touristy fancy bits, with bannisters and millions of people snapping away), the views were awe inspiring - the pictures show you just how magnificent they were. It was a truly brilliant day and I'm sure even on this long trip, one of the best I'll have!'

Locations Visited: Simatai

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