06 December 2007

Trip Report: Mutianyu Great Wall

While in Beijing, I bumped into some Malaysian colleagues, attending some training. They asked me to join them for a visit to the Mutianyu Great Wall, and I gladly accepted. I mean ... it was either that, or I'd have to roam Beijing on my own. Better roam in a group instead :P

As usual, I'll let the pictures take center stage ... and provide some commentaries on the side ..

Picture above copied from www.micktravels.com. This is the map of Mutianyu, the Great Wall section I visited. It is one of the better sections of Great Wall to visit, since it's still quite close to Beijing, but it's not as infested with tourists compared to Badaling Great Wall, the other Great Wall section near Beijing.

Mutianyu is also in a much better state of preservation, and has better scenery. Plus, you avoid the Great Wall of Tourists that is ever present in the Badaling section. Really.

The tour, part of a package from the hotel, costs RMB300, and includes the bus ride, a compulsory visit to a handicraft factory (omnipresent in all Chinese tour packages), entrance fees, and an English speaking tour guide. It's a half day tour. Tour group was small (around 20 of us), so it was really cool. Plus, Leo "Don't Call Me Loo", our guide, is a stand up comedian. He's got great jokes about American politicians.

We stopped off just before reaching the Great Wall for a toilet break, plus we're all hearded into this really nifty handicraft factory. I'm not complaining, but I would have liked more time on the Great Wall instead !

One reason why Mutianyu doesn't get as much visitor is that there isn't a highway connecting Mutianyu to Beijing. You really get off the highway after 2/3 of the way, and travel on country roads. The first glimpses of the Great Wall appears some 20 minutes before we get to the entrance of the Cable Car ride.

That's right folks, you have a choice of hiking up, or taking the cable car. On our tour, the cable car is included. However, what I didn't know was that it didn't include lunch, and there's a pretty steep hike up to the cable car station in the first place. And of course, you get souvenir stores lining the way up to the station !

The first glimpse of the Great Wall was pure bliss. I had never imagined the landscape to be so rugged, and the wall in such a good condition. I guess they must have spent a lot restoring it.

Late autumn is a great time to visit, when the leaves turn into all hues of red, and the air is cool. Mutianyu is quite famous for its autumn foliage, and supposedly, it's got the best vegetation cover amongst the sections of the Great Wall open to tourists. That's right, folks, not all parts of the Great Wall is open ...

Leo kept reminding us that the Great Wall wasn't made with tourists in mind - it was a wall of defense when it was built. Some sections were really steep, and more than once, I was so engrossed taking photos and missed steps, nearly tumbling down sections of the Great Wall ! Be really careful, and take plenty of water with you.

It's winding, it's steep, but it's breathtaking, and it's a great hike in the autumn air. A few of us walked the whole section, while some just stayed in a few sections and took it easy. Either ways, it's quite an experience !

Me, I walked it all ... except one steep section, which I missed due to lack of time. It's the steep slopy part in the picture before this ... I didn't get to walk that part ! =(

The cable car is a life saver ... would have been really hard getting up and down otherwise. Still, there are other ways to get up and down the Mutianyu Great Wall. There's a ski lift to take you up if you can't afford the cable car. And there's a toboggan (yes ... toboggan) for you coming down if you can't afford even the ski lift ! Talk about choices !

On the way back, I had first hand look at the Great Chinese Traffic System during traffic jams. A few dozen miles short of Beijing on our way back ... I realised that there were cars going in the wrong direction on our lane in the highway .... It wasn't long before I realised that the cars were actually turning back because there was a jam ahead !!!

It's crazy !!! Cars were just going in the wrong direction !!! And look at the picture above ... the police didn't even bother ... you can spot a police van in the middle of the picture. Only in China ...

And I also learnt one thing: why Chinese cars won't ever sell overseas. Try telling your car salesman you want to buy a BJ6516B1DWA-5 model. =P


may said...

ooo, that looks like the same spot I went to at the Great Wall! I quite remember us not going to Badaling as well, for the same crowded reasons.

I think your pix look better 'cos of all the autumn colours... mine were just green. and hot!

Applegal said...

you look really happy! :) Waaa, even you can almost go tumbling down the Great Wall? Look who's not observing his surroundings this time! ;)

Jemima said...

China Boleh!!! :p
At least the drivers are pro-active enough to get out of the jam. LOL

Happy weekend, Moz. :)

angel said...

No more Yapunis travels ar? I want...

nyonyapenang said...

My tour took me to the Badaling section and I managed to climbed I think 5 sections...enjoyed it thoroughly. Never thought that one day I could be standing on the Great Wall...one of the 7 Wonders of the World.

The car model number looks somewhat like Chassis or Engine number to me. :)

Chen said...

the traffic jam looks so ocipala..
and the car model name too
so china :P

moz monster said...

may: Smart !!! Badaling is great .. and near ... but it's too crowded to be considered a good experience in my opinion.

Autumn colors so nice, right?

applegal: I had my breath taken away by the beauty mah ... =P

jems: China Boleh ... =P ... It's a cowboy town, but at least they do something about their problem ...

angel: You can sponsor my Yapunis trip next year ... want a not ? In return I buy you nice souvenir from Tokyo ... =P

nyonyapenang: It's quiet funny ... the car model ... I mean ... as much as Proton is bad ... at least they don't name their cars that way ... =)

chen: Yeah ... the car model number ... =P

Kenny Ng said...

Siok-nye... can visit great wall, one of 7 wonders in the world.

moz monster said...

kenny: Bro, you are now working in one of the places many consider the next wonder of the world ! =)

How's the desert sand over there ?

sanji said...

Hi what's the name of the tour you took? I'm looking to go to this part of the wall in late January and this tour sounds great! thanks!