I was lucky enough to get to visit the Great Wall of China three times whilst I lived in Beijing.
First Time on the Great Wall of China
I was working as an au pair for a couple with a young son, Orange. He chose his name himself, and changed it from time to time to other foods such as Melon or Milk. Since he was only about 4 or 5 and didn’t answer to any of them anyway, I just called him Orange.
One day, his dad was having a high school reunion in which all his friends, their wives and children were heading out to one of the more run down and faraway parts of the Wall. It was actually forbidden to tourists and a three hour drive away. As we approached the nearby village for lunch, the first car had to bribe a villager to let us in.
I had been invited to watch Orange, who had no intention of riding with me in the car, sitting with me at lunch or walking the walk alongside me. In fact, he decided he would he rather hang out with his mum. So I spent the day hiking the wall with the adults and enjoying the incredible, untainted views.
Return to the Great Wall of China
My second visit to the Wall was just as eventful. When my parents came to visit me in China, I obviously had to take them. I decided to take my family to the Badaling section, which has been greatly restored and is accessible by train from central Beijing. This is usually the section people visit and seen in photos.
The train to the Wall was packed. We managed to find a seat for my granddad, but the rest of us had to stand for the short journey. Once arrived, there is a brisk (uphill) walk from the station to the main entrance. The surrounding area has been converted so there is a small village at the bottom with restaurants, souvenir shops and a gated entrance collecting payment for entrance to the restored Wall.
After taking a few photos of each other and the view, my parents and granddad were feeling tired and wanted to head back down to the village for a nice cup of tea. In fairness, it was freezing! My sister and boyfriend were eager to keep climbing, so they went on without us. I took the others back down and we had a hot drink and chatted. After about forty five minutes we realised they still weren’t back.
Another half an hour later, she still wasn’t back.
We started to panic a little as they didn’t speak Chinese nor had phones with them. We contacted security who refused to play a message on the speakers in English, and after another hour of looking we contacted the police. My mum and I were riding around the village at the bottom of the Wall in a police car looking for them, when suddenly we spotted them chatting happily.
It turns out they’d had a great time. Apparently if you walk a little further up the walk there is a toboggan on which you can slide back down and then walk along the foot of the wall back to the village at the entrance.
Final Visit to the Great Wall of China
The final time I visited I was headed to a concert. David Guetta was playing on the Great Wall of China itself! Fans from all over China travelled up to Beijing. Thankfully, we didn’t have much travelling to do. We only need take a bus from central Beijing out to the Wall. I’m assuming it was a part close to the city as the bus ride wasn’t much over an hour. Also, the wall was in pretty good shape and had been restored.
It was a really hot day and all drinks (including water) were taken away from us. A bottle of water cost £5 on the inside. There were other DJs playing sets throughout the afternoon and David Guetta finally came on around 9pm. He played for an hour, took a photo and said a quick goodbye. I think he’d gotten bored.