|The view of the Great Wall is always stunning -- if you climb up onto it|
Each time the landscape is amazing -- well at least the last four. Badaling is just a sea of people crowded on the wall.
|WTown is a nice tourist attraction in itself|
The second bus was quite the experience -- we were sitting shoulder to shoulder with real locals, farmers who lived in the area, which ranged from very rural looking with cornfields to suddenly looking very developed with four-way stops and grocery stores.
People on the bus talked very loudly even though they were sitting next to each other, including a trio of young women wearing the same yellow sweatshirt and constantly on their phones chatting online with their friends.
At one point, one of them peeled a mandarin orange and was so enthralled with the fresh scent that she broke off two small pieces of the peel and stuck them in her nose. How attractive.
|The town is picturesque and looks pretty authentic!|
Some tourism sites say WTown looks fake, but to us it looked pretty authentic. Remove the gaudy new signage and modern snacks like ice cream, and it could easily be the set of a period drama. The buildings looked pretty real complete with nice Chinese-style doors and windows, while there are many nice camera angles of the waterways complete with boats gliding along the water.
The 170 kuai admission includes entering the town and the Great Wall, but the real ploy is to get visitors to hang out in the town and spend, spend, spend -- and even stay overnight in the town as there are hotels there.
|At the third watchtower looking back|
We had to walk about 1km on a hilly path to get to the actual wall, so by the time we arrived our hearts had already had a workout. This section has 10 watchtowers, though the first one is across the river on the other side and not connected so we were actually starting at the second watchtower.
The climb here was very steep! We were all breathing heavily walking up the narrow steps and tried to keep going at a steady pace. There were several people on the wall -- including people carrying babies, but not a massive crowd -- perhaps they were too busy taking selfies in the town below.
Every time we looked back, the landscape was stunning. We kept climbing and taking pictures until we reached the seventh watchtower and a kindly middle-aged man told us this was as far as we could go.
How come? We asked.
He explained the rest of the wall was being reinforced and it would take two months. But by this point we were pretty tired and had done a good chunk of this section of the wall. At this point there was just a pair of German tourists, a middle-aged Hong Kong couple, and us.
|A staff member telling us to turn back|
Down at the bottom we took a bathroom break -- washrooms here were extremely clean -- and then made a beeline for the exit. We had already missed the 3pm shuttle but weren't about to wait until 5pm for the next one so we waited for the 51 bus to get back.
This time farmers were taking their goods into town -- one elderly woman had bags full of giant leeks, cabbages and even a bag full of peanuts. Taking the 980 bus back to town took longer as we arrived during rush hour. But we got back safely and very hungry!
Simatai Village, Gubeikou Town
Miyun District, Beijing