Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Fashionista's Travels: The Great Wall of China

In June 2010, the three of us went to Beijing (courtesy of AirAsia's free flights promotion). Well, we didn't get free tickets, but we did get the RM10 tickets, so in all, our flight Kuching - KL - Tianjin (return) costs less than MYR400 each. If I'm not mistaken it was only about MYR360 (return trip per person). And no trip to Beijing is complete without a trip to the Great Wall of China

There are several ways to get to the Great Wall, depending on which gate that you opt to visit. Among the famous gates are Badaling and Mutianyu; Unfortunately, I was informed that Mutianyu is quite far from Beijing (and less visited), thus we opted for Badaling. 

How to get there? Bear in mind that we did not book any tour packages (as we were informed via the net that tour packages tend to be very rushed and we do not want to be rushed as we savor our moment enjoying our trip to one of the wonders of the world). So, we decided to trust the net and look up ways to get to the wall. To read the website that we used as reference for the trip, click [here]. 

Alternatively, you can also choose to read my blog =). 

First, we used the subway from Qianmen station (where we were staying) and stopped at Jishuitan station. For those who are wondering on the fees, subways in Beijing uses a flat rate of RMB2 (equal to about MYR1) to any destination no matter how near or far. Coming out of Jishuitan station, we had to walk quite a distance, (I think around 15 to 20 minutes) to the Deshengmen bus station. Feel free to ask around on where is the bus station to Badaling (I'm terribly sorry but I forgot to take photos of the bus station). Most people are actually quite friendly and they will point you to the right direction. 

Upon arriving at the bus station, we followed the instructions from wikitravel and took bus no 919 to Badaling. As mentioned in the website, the bus fare is RMB12 (equal to about MYR6). The bus trip will take roughly about 1 hour plus (I don't remember exactly though, it was 2 years ago, you know). How do you know if you've arrived at your destination? There'll be plenty of signage indicating the Great Wall and if I'm not mistaken, it's the last stop, therefore everyone will be exiting the bus at the Great Wall station.

This is us in the bus. Usually the bus driver will wait until the bus is full before leaving the station. 

I actually made a new friend on the bus. I seem to have forgotten her name, but she was really helpful in sharing with us on the attractions and famous landmarks in Beijing.

Arriving at the bus station in Badaling. There's plenty of shops, restaurants and hotels along the road leading to the entrance of the wall. If you're uncertain of how to get to the entrance of the wall, just follow the road leading up the hill and you'll be fine. 

There's also a public toilet by the road just in case you need to take care of business. I'm not sure if there's any toilets along the wall itself though (public toilets were not my priority at the time of the visit).

We couldn't find any halal outlets near Badaling (and we were ravenous when we arrived at the bus station in Badaling) so we opted to eat at a vegetarian outlet instead. There's one vegetarian outlet by the roadside, so if you're hungry, you might want to look for that one (I have no photos of it, sorry).

As you can see, the Great Wall of China is included in the New Seven Wonders of the World list. 

At the entrance of the gate. I don't remember now how much we paid for the entrance fee. But I remember that it's not that expensive.

This is the entrance to the Great Wall.

This was erected in conjunction with Beijing Olympics in 2008.

As you can see, the wall itself is quite a distance, so you may want to decide on the distance that you're willing to walk. And you might also notice plenty of other tourists, so walking along the wall is relatively quite safe.

This shot was taken on one of the steep parts of the wall (thus the reason for the weird pose).

As you can see, a bit of stamina is needed to walk/ climb along the wall. The length of the wall is quite a distance and the path itself (though it's paved) is filled with ups and downs.

Did I mention that some parts of the wall are quite steep?

Notice the arabic letterings on top of the door frame? Although I do think that the letterings are more recent than the wall itself *heh*.

Along our trip, we met two Muslim Mongolian boys with their father. Super adorable =).

Stopping to pose with the father and his two boys. One of the benefits of donning the hijab is that it's easier to be recognized by another Muslim fellow. And most of the time (when traveling), Muslim travelers (or natives of whichever country that I'm in) would say the salaam to me. As strangers, it's a great way to find common ground (and start a conversation =P).

My brother and his jumping pose. Luckily he didn't jump his way off the wall *yikes*.

Yup, there's still a long way to go even though we've walked for about an hour or so. And if you notice, the whole length of the wall is filled with tourists.

Bear in mind that the further you walk along the wall, the further you have to walk back to the gate. There is no bus station at the other end. You have to walk back to the bus station from where you came from.

This is the recognition from UNESCO claiming that the Great Wall is a world heritage site.

Indeed if you ever get the chance to visit Beijing, a visit to the Great Wall is a must! It's really amazing to be able to be there and imagine how difficult it must have been to construct the Great Wall. Even until now there's been no attempt to mimic China's Great Wall by other countries. I can only imagine how horrible it would be to man the wall during winter, it musn't have been easy on the soldiers. And it's only while you are standing on the Great Wall itself that you would notice how high up the wall really is. My climb was a humbling experience.

Left the wall and went down to the train station. Actually if you don't fancy using the bus to Badaling, you can opt for a train ride from Beijing North Station to Badaling. The train station is about 800m from the gate of the Great Wall so be prepared to walk a little bit further compared to if you use the bus. Unfortunately for us, the queue for the train was too long for us to endure (and the buses are more frequent that the trains) so we opted for a ride home using the same way we came, via the 919 bus.

Hope my post helps those who are planning for a trip to the Great Wall. Oh, in case you're wondering, my previous post on my trip to Beijing is [here].

xoxo Mrs Fashionista

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