Climbing The Great Wall of China

Molly Wallis

Climbing the Great Wall at Mutianyu

The Great Wall of China is one of the seven wonders of the world. It represents human achievement on the grandest scale. As  Mao Zedong said  “He who has never been to the Great Wall is not a true man”.   I felt a great sense of achievement and wonder on reaching the top.   Climbing the Great Wall, for me, was a dream come true.  

Whilst the views were amazing, I couldn’t help wondering what on earth made the people who built the wall  thousands of years ago to do so. The wall snakes up and down the mountain and through tough terrains. At Mutianyu, not far from Beijing, the wall was up to 8.5 metres high and 5 metres wide and has 22 watch towers on its 2,250 metre long stretch.  Mutianyu is not as popular as Badaling which is the most visited part of the Great Wall. I preferred Mutianyu, not as crowded and no unnecessary distractions and the scenery is undoubtedly more stunning in my opinion.

Taking a cable car to about a third of the way up was most welcomed as climbing these uneven stairs in the heat of the midday sun would not have been funny!   

Just started the climb so looking fresh! 

Starting to feel the heat of the midday sun so out came my blue brolly! 

This was not an easy climb not least because of the midday sun, also because of the steep stairs. I was getting very tired by this stage and decided to keep my head down. Suddenly I hit the wall! You know when marathon runners say they ‘hit the wall’ and you wonder what that felt like. Well, I experienced something similar. As I looked up, I saw there was still some way to go. No, I was not going to give up. I continued relentlessly. I took shelter in the watch towers as I slowly worked my way up.  A number of people gave up or decided to just sit down for a while, or just stop and spend time admiring the view.  The view is amazing whichever way you look.  

I made it- yeah!!!! The last little bit was very treacherous and one literally crawl up on all fours, praying you dont slip and bring down the people behind you. 

I was so excited to have reached the top and didnt think when I was handed a flag and someone pointed a camera at me saying “smile Molly”. And instinctively smiled, holding the flag. One of my fellow travellers pointed out that I was holding the Chinese flag! What the heck, I was in China and on The Great Wall – Mollywozhere. It didn’t matter. 

If you are still thinking about going to see the Great Wall, just do it. It is a trip of a lifetime and you will not regret it. The sense of achievement and wonder of not just the building of the wall but of the history and what it represents, are beyond words. 

Tiananmen Square, Summer Palace, Tempe of Heaven  

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