Here are some fun facts about the Great Wall:
- Peter Jackson totally ripped off the Great Wall for his tower signaling sequence in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
- The Great Wall is not inaccurate. I know when you hear, “Great Wall,” you may think it is just a big wall. It isn’t just a big wall. It’s a really, really, big wall on the top of a mountain. And it runs for over 370 miles.
- You should be in decent shape before you climb the steps to the Great Wall. It’s over half a kilometer of steps at a 45 degree incline. There are places to rest, but your calves will probably ache for a day or two.
- There are 50 or 60 shopkeepers at the bottom of the Great Wall. They all sell the exact same merchandise at the exact same prices. T-shirts were as low as two for $1. Sharon, who works in apparel manufacturing, is not sure how they make any money at this price.
- It’s chilly at the Great Wall in November, but by the time you reach the top of the Great Wall you will be fairly warm
We left the hotel at seven in the morning. We decided to visit the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall, around 90 minutes outside of Beijing by car. It was a nice day for a drive. The day I arrived was the worst day in terms of pollution; the days became colder, but clearer, as I stayed in Beijing.
We started our climb up the stairs immediately after we arrived. We were among the first tourists to arrive that day; at the top of the wall we were able to enjoy sections without seeing any other groups of people. The parts of the Wall we saw were in fantastic condition, and the sight was amazing. It’s worth visiting, as photos and a written description do not do the Wall justice.
First view of the Great Wall as we climbed the steps.
Mark, Sharon, and I (R to L) at the Great Wall. There was a small gazebo just before you reached the wall.
The photos make the Wall appear as if it is drastically dipping, twisting, and turning. This is not a trick of the camera–the Great Wall dips, twists, and turns as it hugs the peak of the mountain. The steepest stairs required a bit of minor climbing; as you went down the slope of the Wall you had to make sure not to slip on any frost. The Wall was also slightly angled towards one side. The angle allowed rain water to gather into drains.
A Chinese and Australian crew was shooting a promotional video for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. I took a few photos and also posted a video to YouTube.