Mutianyu Great Wall

We wanted to go to the Simotai portion (there’s a zip line, and yet our book positioned it as the ‘less-touristed’ section near Beijing), but it’s closed for construction. Our hotel recommended Mutianyu instead, as it would be less crowded than the section closest to Beijing. It’s about 1.5 hrs by car, and about 3km are open for walking. You can also hike up the hill to the wall, or take the easy route up (cable car) and down (“tobaggan” – kind of like a luge).

What can I say? It’s the Great Wall of China and it’s awesome. It’s surreal. Like everything here, the scale is staggering – all the more so when you realize that to walk around 5 km on the wall (roundtrip) you’re covered in sweat and it’s taken you 2 hours. And when the mist lifts and over on yonder hilltop you see more watch towers. It just Doesn’t Make Sense.

I’m glad we got there early, as by the time we were headed down to meet our ride back to the city (around 11:30), it was getting mighty crowded. I shudder to think what the section that the hotel said was “too crowded” would be like.

Anyway, here are just a few pictures. It was awesome. A longer ‘adventure’ journey on a less-restored wall mighta been cool, but I have no regrets. Great Wall!!

Cable car up – I was mildly alarmed. Especially when Dunc dropped our water bottle. Sorry countryside! You can also see the luge track going down.

I was grateful for the handrail on these steps – all the more so on the way down. Everything was damp and slick. I made the mistake of looking one way and walking another a couple of times and invariably slipped.

By the time we were coming back down this way to go explore the other side, there was a really old skinny dude selling water, hats, etc. We bought some expensive water from him after he made a big show of taking our picture – and then passed a colleague/competitor of his, hiking his way up with his wares strapped to his back. I am a soft office monkey.

These bugs were everywhere – pretty, and pretty stupid

This donkey was ‘parked’ near another wares-seller, leading me to think that it might haul her stuff up and down. Or maybe it’s just a donkey that likes the grazing near the wall, I dunno.

Just beyond this watch tower was another cable car station. We turned around here to catch the sled back down, passing way more people on our way out. Including some pretty awesome, inappropriate fashion – the nice girl from Vienna who took this pic was wearing ballet slippers, for example. I got a couple pics of some other scoffable footwear, all of which made me feel very self righteous in my Sensible Hiking Shoes.

Ok seriously? Look at this wall. Restored or not, the angles are INSANE.

Nice Camper pumps! Enjoy the slippery steep steps. I forgot my Real Woman Card.

This lady even went prancing by in her wedges. Cute! Enjoy your broken ankle! (pats self on back for being so Sensible)

I don’t think you can tell, but there is a wall over there, I swear.


My childhood memories/knowledge of the Great Wall was pretty much limited to the David Copperfield special when he walked through it. Reanacted here for your amazement:

 I wanted it to be more fun, but you had to go pretty slow. Kind of ridiculous, actually. But better than walking down the mountain I guess!

Booming souvenir trade at the bottom of it all.

Drive back to Beijing. It seems to be corn season.

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