Monday, July 2, 2012

Beijing China : Mutianyu, Great Wall (A deserving Wonder of the World)

How can I visit Beijing and NOT go to the Great Wall of China. After all, she is one of the seven wonders of the world, something that I have been taught since my primary school days. Even as a child, I have also marveled at the Chinese military strength and my early exposure to the stories of the Three Kingdoms simply made me dreaming of a visit someday...someday.....

And finally here I was....in Beijing and an opportunity to visit the Great Wall....
On the day of our departure and since our flight was at 1am in the morning, we had time. We made arrangements with this driver highly recommended by a good friend and we booked him to take us out to visit the Great Wall. Since it was a Saturday following a public holiday on Friday in China, he recommended us to visit Mutianyu, a less crowded section of the wall which is located about 70km away from Beijing.

Although supposedly less crowded, there were still plenty of tourists and buses. There is a cable car ride from the foothill to the levels of the wall costing RMB80 (RM40) for a return trip. This is highly recommended for the less adventurous as hiking up from the foothill to the wall is still some distance away and there is still plenty of walking and climbing to be done on the walls herself.
The cable car ride with a section of the wall in the background....

I was simply thrilled the moment I stood on the walls looking up at the ridges and down on the valleys below. Suddenly I became a child, reliving all my childhood memories and of the drawings I had made of Chinese warriors fighting on horse backs and arrows raining from the wall on the enemies below. Suddenly, the memory of grandmother going through my drawings and encouraging me comes flooding back....

Mutianyu is one of the most interesting sections of the Great Wall. Unlike the more popular Badaling and the Juyongguan, Mutianyu is not only less crowded but has also some of the features not found on other sections.
Mutianyu stretches a total of approximately 2.5 kms over the mountain ridges with sharp drop of cliffs on both sides, covered with pine forests. The wall is approximately 7 to 8 meters tall and is approximately 4 to 5 meters wide. This section of the wall was reconstructed by General Xu Da of the Ming Dynasty (16th Century) on remnants of a wall originally built by the Qi Dynasty (550-577).

This is the section of the wall with probably the most watch towers. A total of 22 watch towers were built along this 2.5 km stretch, approximately one watch tower every 100 meters. The Mutianyu section connects the Juyongguan Pass on the west to Gubeikou on the east, and remains as one of the largest construction scale and best quality sections of the wall, built to protect the marauding nomads from the north against the capital and the imperial tombs.
Built using granite, this section of the wall is also unique because both the outer and inner parapets are crenelated with merlons (small openings on the wall of the fort) so that arrows can be shot from both sides of the wall on enemies, a feature apparently rarely found on the Great Wall.

Because this section is less crowded, there are certain sections of the wall where you could find yourself alone with her for a short instance and that moment is simply magical. 
As you stand over the wall, looking over the ridges from one of the many watch tower to another watch tower and as your eyes scanned over the horizon, over the forests below, just for a brief moment, one could almost sense the importance and urgency of a tower guard looking out for any invasion from the north. You can also imagine the scene when soldiers fully armed and ready to do battle were rushed to the wall, as the alarm was raised .....their eyes peeled on the enemies' movement below with their bow bend, ready to sent that one arrow into the hearts of their targeted enemies...defending their homeland, their families and their Emperor from the barbaric tribes who will show no mercy if they breached the wall .....
...and suddenly you are snapped back to the present by the clicking sounds of cameras and loud chatters of eager tourists, cramping to get that perfect picture of them and one of the seven wonders of the world.....

...and that my dear friends, is the Great Wall of China. You might see it a thousands times on National Geographic, postcards and movies but nothing, nothing beats being there yourself because no picture, no movie and no video could capture and translate the essence of her greatness and her beauty .....See you there soon...... 

1 comment:

  1. Great photos, thanks for sharing. Mutianyu Great Wall is a good alternative for Badaling, often quiet, with less tour buses and stops. Badaling gets more tourists than Mutianyu. If you could visit only one, and want to enjoy a better views with less crowds, Mutianyu is right for you. http://www.wildgreatwall.com/mutianyu-toboggan-ride/

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