While Beijing certainly has plenty of touristy things to see and do in town, one of the biggest tourist attractions is actually about 90 minutes away by rail, that being the section of the Great Wall at Badaling.
There were some negative aspects to the trip there and back, but I am going to reserve those for another post so as not to detract from this one.
I legitimately expected it to be something of a let-down. I mean, it’s a wall, right? An awfully long one, sure, but what’s the big deal?
And then I got there and got the barest sense of the SCALE of the thing, and the horrific terrain it was constructed through, and even the most trivial connection to what it must have been like to patrol the thing, and I will freely admit that i was a complete idiot on the topic.
I included a non-cropped, non-resized photo here, if you click on it and follow the wall up until it disappears into the mountains at the top of the photo it might help. I don’t buy the “visible from space” thing, but I get where the notion comes from. It just keeps going.
There have only been a few times in my life when I’ve had to step back, look at something, and just let myself be amazed at the notion that human beings actually built it, and this one is, I think, the top of the list for all time.
So, go for the views, which are spectacular, go for the exercise, which is more or less required if you want to see anything, but mostly go if you’re a jaded git who wants to experience a sense of wonder again.
I will also recommend, if you have a spare 元100 in your pocket and enough room in your heart for some Sheer Abject Terror, taking the cable car ride to the top of the nearby wall segment rather than walking up from the bottom. That may just be my 40+ year-old calves talking, mind you, but I think it was worth it, even for the bit where we caught a strong side wind and the car started swinging like mad on what suddenly seemed a very thin cable indeed.