When people say they’re visiting the Great Wall of China, they may not actually be visiting the same place. The Wall is over 8,000 km long — for context, the length of the Philippines from north to south is a mere fraction at only 1,850 km — and can be visited at several places along its length. The most popular section is probably the one in Badaling, which is the closest to the Beijing city proper, but an authentic, less crowded alternative is the Gubeikou Great Wall.
My sister and fellow SmallTownGirl, Leilani, created a compelling account of her adventures (and misadventures!) climbing the Great Wall at Gubeikou:
Stretching miles and miles, the end always someplace beyond the horizon. I could have walked for days and still not have gotten to the end. The lush green below, a moderately cloudy sky above, the sun slowly making its way across the landscape. I took off my earphones, the music faded, and just stood there. On the wall. There was nobody else around. It was peaceful up on the wall. The only sound was the whisper of the wind and the rustling of leaves. I imagined myself a warrior, on the lookout for enemies attempting to climb the wall. I could not see how they’d manage.
After going over the trail for the second time using this map (yes, it was the only map available!), I again made a mental note of some things I had to look out for. CIRCLES meant okay to go on. X meant do not pass. A pile of stones may also mean go on.
Even a tart little postscript:
I stand by my country’s claims on the Kalayaan Group of Islands.
Wisely enough, she didn’t shout that from the top of the wall to the soldiers undergoing weapons training in the nearby military camp. Beauty and brains, my sister. Read the full post HERE.