Saturday, May 09, 2015

Hiking The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall is long, over 3000 miles long, so picking a place to visit was not exactly easy. We have a long list of criteria: does not have not too many visitors (probably not restored), good selection of accommodation, accessible by public transportation, has more than one day of hiking, not too dangerous or illegal. After much deliberation we decided on Gubeikou.

From Hefei, the fast train carried us 1000+ kms north to Beijing in less than 5 hours. Then we covered next 110km, two subway lines and two buses, in just under 4 hours to Gubeikou Village. It seemed every family in the village is running a guesthouse (hotel) or in the process of turning the family home into a guesthouse. We stayed for three nights and had two days of hiking from our front door. The weather didn't disappoint us either. Though it got pretty very windy each afternoon, the days were mostly clear ad the temps pleasant.

We came to Gubeikou not without expectation, albeit not particularly high, we left rather pleased.

The fast train from the bleak rainy weather of Hefei in the south to sunny skies in the north. Northerners grow wheat via irrigation from the Yellow River.
On the train from Hefei to Beijing, China

One of the new "fast train" stations we passed through on our way north.
On the train from Hefei to Beijing, China

After settling into the Ju De Guesthouse in Gubeikuo, we spotted our landlady and her mother grinding sorghum flour across the street.
Great Wall, Gubeikuo, China

The Tom Sawyer effect.
Great Wall, Gubeikuo, China

Ju De Zhan (Ju De Guesthouse).
Gubeikuo Village - Beijing, China

Getting our first day of hiking going with a filing breakfast at our guesthouse.
Great Wall, Gubeikuo, China

View to the east.
Great Wall, Gubeikuo, China

Looking back west to Gubeikuo.
Great Wall, Gubeikuo, China

Every 300 meters or so there is a watchtower.
Great Wall, Gubeikuo, China

Great Wall, Gubeikuo, China

The Great Wall was built with local materials; local stone, and bricks made from local clay. Here, the glazed bricks have a yellow hue.
Great Wall, Gubeikuo, China

We saw very few people this day, except for a large group of tourists from the UK.
Great Wall, Gubeikuo, China

Great Wall, Gubeikuo, China

Looking east with the late afternoon sun shining on The Wall.
Great Wall, Gubeikuo, China

A tasty plate of chao bing (fried cut bread noodles) after a long day of hiking.
Great Wall, Gubeikuo, China

Another very filling breakfast to start day two's hike.
Breakfast - Gubeikuo, China

We run into the postman on his bike.
Great Wall - Gubeikuo, China

Goal for the day: the 4 watchtowers at the top of this peak.
Great Wall - Gubeikuo, China

Clear but windy today.
Great Wall - Gubeikuo, China

Looking east to the other side of the valley at the section of wall we hiked yesterday. Bonus: a train comes by.
Great Wall - Gubeikuo, China

The Wall gets steeper as we ascend.
Great Wall - Gubeikuo, China

Great Wall - Gubeikuo, China

A view straight down to the railway station and in the far left the small valley where we started the day from our guesthouse front door.
Great Wall - Gubeikuo, China

Nearing the top it's best not to look down. ;-)
Great Wall - Gubeikuo, China

Classic Great Wall view from the top.
Great Wall - Gubeikuo, China

Another train.
Great Wall - Gubeikuo, China

On the lower sections, the steps and towers are restored.
Great Wall - Gubeikuo, China

Great Wall - Gubeikuo, China

After another long day, John digs into a plate of tofu noodles and cucumber slices at a Muslim restaurant.
Great Wall - Gubeikuo, China

But it's not straight home after dinner; we climb above Gubeikuo Village to watch the sun set.
Great Wall - Gubeikuo, China

6 comments:

Liz said...

It is very interesting to see the contrast between restored and not restored. The pictures are amazing. The food looks yummy. Odd question but curious - is there a need to wear sunscreen?

Liz said...

By the way, national tourism day in China is 19 May. Have you read works by Xu Xiake?

thursdaysd said...

That looks to be some pretty precarious footing. Maybe I should stick to the renovated sections!

john said...

Kathy, Of course I used the photos that showed SL in the greatest chance of peril; however, IMO it's the fear of heights rather than actual precarious footing that poses the real challenge. That said, the first day's walk was easy, the second day, steep; very long sections of steep, both up and down that tested our mental and well as physical stamina.

Not to mention the wind. Several times SL felt she was about to be blown off the trail. In fact, the first day a burst of wind brought some rain but we were unable to get our rain jackets on; they were like sails. Luckily the rain stopped after a minute or two.

john said...

Liz, We put on sunscreen everyday when traveling, and often wore our hats. Best not to find out empirically if sunscreen is needed. ;-)

Sun-Ling said...

@Liz, I have only read a few excerpts of Xu Xiake back when I was in school. Talking about tourism, that's one of the ways the government is encouraging spending. It may be working too well, since people are beginning to travel abroad as they become better off.