Beyond the Great Wall

A tourist trip to China typically includes a visit to the Great Wall, one of the major attractions of the immense country. From Beijing, multiple sections of the Great Wall are easily visited on a day-trip. We, of course, wanted to see what it was all about too. We chose to visit the Great Wall at Badaling.

Badaling Great Wall

Instead of paying 45$ for an organized tour to Badaling, we opted to arrange our own transport. Our first idea was to take the train, this would be the cheapest (around 2$), shortest (about an hour and a half), and most convenient way of travel. Yet, we were not the only ones who had this idea. Due to the sun being out for the first time in days, causing nice temperatures, loads of (mostly Chinese) tourists had already occupied the train. Plan B: take the public bus (4$). After looking for the bus station for a while, we found ourselves with standing places - we mistakenly stood in the shorter line for the bus, the longer line was for seating places.

After the not so enjoyable bus journey we arrived at the Great Wall. Because it was such a nice day, we decided to not take the cable car up to the highest tower, but to hike all the way there. A good decision, even though the hike was hard due to steep but stairless ascents. The views were great all the way, the Great Wall curved its way through the mountains in the distance. After completing our hike, we made sure to get into the right line, and made it back to Beijing exhausted, but satisfied.


We explored Beijing for five days, and also spent New Year’s Eve in the capital. In the city centre, the Forbidden City is the major thing to see. Dating back to the Emperors’ days, the Forbidden City was his palace where everyone who wanted to get in had to get permission from the Emperor himself. He liked his privacy, so not a lot of people got in - hence the Forbidden City. The city mainly consists of a series of gates and temples, but also includes the Emperors’ living quarters surrounded by a garden. Despite it being the coldest day during our stay, the Forbidden City is not to be missed.

The remaining days we visited some lesser known places: the Beijing Zoo (entrance fee only 2.50$) to see pandas, and the Olympic City, easily reachable by subway. On New Years’ Eve we stayed in, enjoying a bottle of champagne on our own. No fireworks or anything, just the two of us.

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We, Mark & Herta, are currently backpacking through Europe, and eventually planning to settle in London. Beyond that? The possibilities are endless.

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