The Great Wall of China seems to be on most people’s bucket list right…even those who have no real desire to go to China, but when you say “I want to go to the Great Wall,” what are you really saying you want to go to? Are you saying you want to see the restored portion that looks immaculate & pristine with each stone layed perfectly in place because that’s what you’ve seen advertised worldwide or do you want to see the crumbling bits of the original wall that don’t always even look like the Great Wall?
There are many many portions of the Great Wall. Most people who say they want to go to the Great Wall really mean they want to go to the restored portion of the Great Wall that they’ve seen in famous photos. This means that they will be taken there by bus or taxi pay a fee to “get in” & then either take a cable car to the top for a few photos amongst thousands of other tourists or will walk to the top with those thousands of others to take a photo and say they were on the Great Wall, when in reality none of the original wall still exists there. Then there are people like us who say we don’t care what it looks like we want to see the original Great Wall & we want to be the only ones in sight. So after some investigating we were able to find that perfect spot just 2 hours outside of Beijing.
A friend linked us up with Great Wall Fresh and we ended up staying there for the last week we were in China. Great Wall Fresh is a place where most people come for only a night or two & the owner laughed when he found out we wanted to stay for the whole week, but it was the best time we’ve had in China! We got to see unrestored original portions of the Great Wall, places where the stones were crumbling under our feet at times. We took a guide with us for the first hike just to make sure where we were going and to get a lay of the land before heading out on our own. The guide is relatively inexpensive at 100rmb(approx. $15USD) and if you are not familiar with the area well worth it. We were very pleased when we got back to the homestead that when we showed the very stern guide who had not really engaged with us the video that we took while with him he grinned from ear to ear. The staff at Great Wall Fresh do not speak English but were wonderful hosts and through our broken Chinese & a few lovely expats who translated when things became a bit too complex we were able to enjoy each other’s company.
As the week went on we continued to do hikes on various parts of the Wall, we went on areas others had been turning around at because of how steep it was with loose rock under them, & we even got part way up a steep portion to the far right when a thunderstorm rolled in so we had to hustle our way back down steep loose rock to get back to safety. By staying at Great Wall Fresh we got to see a portion of the wall that many only dream of as well as experiencing the best food we had during our entire time in China. The staff were friendly although they do not speak any English we still managed on our broken Chinese and assistance from other guests who could assist with translations. This was a wonderful end to a very interesting 3.5 months in China! We look forward to many more experiences such as this & we hope you’ve enjoyed our Chinese stories & hope you continue with us as we begin the next few months traveling across the United States.
Because everything for this portion of our trip came from either self exploration or by staying at the Great Wall Fresh the only outside resource I can provide is the link above to Great Wall Fresh (www.greatwallfresh.com).
To view & purchase photos from China or our other wonderful travels please visit our website at www.oehlerphotography.com.