The Great Wall of China – Tourism 101

I who wander everywhere say: if you go to China, you have to visit the Great Wall.

The many great walls of China

The many Great Walls of China

A rammed earth wall was begun in the Qin Dynasty (221-207 BC)  [in yellow on the map] and many dynasties built walls  until the end of the 16th century. During the Ming Dynasty  between 1569 and 1583, the parts of the Great Wall most familiar to foreigners were built, [in indigo]. The reinforced wall managed to repel Mongols several times. [Map from Wikipedia]

In 1644 the Manchu began the Qing Dynasty.  From then on, the wall slowly faded away and stone and rocks were taken for building projects and homes. The Cultural Revolution encouraged local people and local governments to help dismantle it.  In 1984 President Deng Xiaoping started a restoration and protection project; in 1987, the Great Wall was declared a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO. Most tourists visit the areas near Beijing, which are the best preserved.  But most of the Great Wall lies in the desert regions of the country and the wall extends several thousand kilometers from the Bo Hai Sea near Korea to Gansu province in western China.  Our tour went to Badaling about 45 km from Beijing.

We were told that the easiest and most-photographed route attracted the most people. I went the other way.

This is the section of the Great Wall at Badaling that you most often see in photos. At the terrace in the left foreground you decide whether to go that way or up the steeper less crowded section, from which this picture is taken.

This is the section of the Great Wall at Badaling that you most often see in photos. At the terrace in the left foreground you decide whether to go that way or up the steeper less crowded section, from which this picture is taken.

View 2 - further away from the popular route. You can see the crowds.

View 2 – further away from the popular route. You can see the crowds.

View 3, with the popular route becoming lost in the haze/smog/clouds. It was a damp day and rained as we started out, but not for long.

View 3, with the popular route becoming lost in the haze/smog/clouds. It was a damp day and rained as we started out, but not for long.

View 4, as I started back down from my climb on the other side of the valley.

View 4, as I started back down from my climb on the other side of the valley.

Next post: the wall less travelled.

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