This post is also adapted from a forum post at the time.
Okay, last bit of touristy pictures. Don’t have any more days off until I leave for home Saturday night.
Wanted to take a tour to a farther section of the wall on Saturday, but I ended up having to work. I did get to see a lot of the countryside from the train as we went to Tangshan via Tianjin on a test run. Didn’t take any pictures, though. We got back late, and since I still wanted to see the wall before I left, I bought a ticket for the tour that left from the hotel in the morning.
First, the tour went to the Ming Tombs, which are in a natural bowl surrounded by mountains on all sides. Most of the tombs aren’t open, but the main part of the compound is.
The size of these columns and rafters was amazing. All were single pieces of wood.
One of the tombs from below. Note the tree growing out of the wall.
On the road that goes to the Ming tombs, there are fruit orchards. I wish we had stopped to pick up some peaches, but the tour went to the ‘jade factory’ where they tried to sell us cheap crap, or decent stuff at inflated prices. Then was lunch at a restaurant attached to a large gift shop, where the food was terrible. If the taste was any indication, BTV would be able to do a real story on cardboard filled dumplings from there.
Aside: There was a news story at the time that there was a vendor selling pork buns in Beijing that had cardboard in them. It was apparently faked. Here’s the wikipedia article about it.
Then, finally after far too much time in this large gift shop (I really should have purchased the oil painting of Putin, it was so classy) we finally set off for the wall. The Badaling section was very crowded, so the tour went to the Juyongguan Pass, which is just west of that. There weren’t many people there at all, which was nice. Unfortunately, we only had about an hour and 45 minutes there, thanks to the time wasting gift shops. That said, it’s hard to screw up the Great Wall, even if the tour company is a front for gift shops.
There were two sides, I went up the steeper of the two since the view looked better. I didn’t make it to the top, since I was worried I wouldn’t make it back down in time to catch the bus. Here’s some pictures:
This is the road we drove in on.
It keeps going up after that, it’s very steep and the steps are not a uniform size which makes it very tiring.
Not for the acrophobic.
It’s a beautiful area, I wish I had been able to have more time there. Maybe next trip.
A look back at the section I climbed from the other side. I made it about halfway up that top section that’s in the fog.
Also, on the way to the last gift shop (“tea ceremony”, then offer to sell tea at vastly inflated prices) we passed the new Olympic area, here’s a picture of the main stadium from the 4th Ring Road.
Was enjoyable despite the bad tour. Hopefully next time I’ll get a chance to spend more time.