Asia

Excursion from Beijing to the Great Wall of China in Mutianyu

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The Great Wall of China it was built over 2000 years ago during the Qin dynasty, under the reign of Emperor Qin Shi Guan. It started being different walls built by several independent kingdoms to stop the attacks of the northern nomads. However, they eventually joined in a single great wall whose construction required hundreds of thousands of workers, mostly political prisoners. After ten years of painful forced labor under the orders of General Meng Tian, ended up erecting as one of the most imposing military structures in the history of mankind.

The cable car and the slide

In Peking, almost all hostels and hotels organize excursions to the Great Wall. The sections that can be visited are those of Badaling, Mutianyu and Simatai. The first is the most tourist because it is the closest to the capital and that of Simatai it was closed for restoration when we travel to China, but we saw that it reopened as of October 1, 2013. There are two more sections in Jinshali and Julongwan, but they are visits that require a very good physical form.

So, we went to Mutianyu's. We saw an excursion that included breakfast, lunch and visit to the Qin tombs for 390 yuan, but to save a little we decided to do it alone. For this you have to go to Dongzhimen subway station and from there to the Transfer Bus Hall, where the bus station is located. Bus number 916 leaves every 5 minutes and after an hour or so leaves you in the town of Huairo. Once there, you have to look for a taxi driver who will take you the 17 kilometers to the Great Wall.

It is day he wanted us to meet Mr. Wan, a city bus driver from Beijing who decided to take a bonus with us. When we got on the bus in Beijing, he was kind: he told us that this was the bus to go to Mutianyu and then, in the middle of nowhere in Huairo, he told us that we had to get off at that stop, just where he had strategically parked his car. Obviously, what he wanted was to take us to the Great Wall for the modest price of 160 yuan both. After negotiating a little, and seeing that perhaps there we would not find anyone to take us, we agreed that we would pay him 60 yuan. My advice is that no matter how much they tell you, do not get off until the last stop, that of the bus station. There you will find more taxi drivers and you can negotiate a better price.

Ufff !!! How hot!

Even though that him Mutianyu section It seems to be less touristy than Badaling's, it's all very well organized. The admission costs 45 yuan and to the wall you can walk up, or up and down by cable car. Another option, which was the one we chose, was to go up on a chairlift and down at full speed with a sled with wheels on a kilometer slide by 80 yuan. Yes, get off the Great Wall on a scooter down a slide. I had a hard time assimilating the idea because I could hardly believe it and I even thought it was misspelled on the box office sign, but no. Only the Chinese can think of riding a slide to go down from the top of the Great Wall of China.

That section of the Great Wall in Mutianyu is three kilometers long Visitable and includes 26 watchtowers of the Ming dynasty. You can go from end to end in an hour, although there are some sections where the slope is a bit complicated. Be that as it may, it is spectacular to see that pharaonic work. That day we were accompanied by the same "calm" or pollution that in Beijing and the sinuous silhouette of the wall was blurring in the distance after several layers of humid air and pollution. It was a shame not to enjoy a clear day to be able to see it well, but it was still amazing.

The wall was never used as an impenetrable line of defense, although as Genhis Khan said: "The strength of a wall depends on the courage of those who defend it." Even so, it worked very well as an elevated road to transport people and equipment through such mountainous terrain. In addition, the Great Wall had a system of beacons that served to inform the capital about the movements of the enemy.

The Lonely Planet guide says there is no bus from Huairou to Mutianyu. But there is, it is 867 (16 yuan). I do not have the departure times from Huairou, but I do return them: at 2pm and 4pm. Anyway, that day, it is not clear why, the bus did not pass. The taxi drivers said that it was because there were works on a road, but of course, they said it the same for us to go by taxi. At the bus stop we met a couple formed by a Spanish and an Italian who had been waiting for the bus from 2:30 p.m. and it was almost 3 p.m. and it still did not appear. In the end, we agreed to get off the four with a taxi for 50 yuan in total. We were cheaper than the bus and the taxi driver earned 50 yuan, so everyone was happy. The taxi driver dropped us off at the station where he stopped 916 on the way to Beijing and an hour later we were back at the Donzhimen bus station. By the way, this couple told us that they had also run into another man who had brought them down early and that in the end he had taken them to the wall for 50 yuan. You have to be careful with the opportunists.

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