We woke up to the first snow of Beijing winter! We were in for a lucky day it seemed.
Our new friend, Qin Shi Huang (most famously known as the first Emperor of the Qin Dynasty and whose tomb was guarded by the Terracotta Warriors) was kind enough to not only grant us one Bucket List item, but TWO!
The Great Wall of China.
The ‘original’ wall was begun over 2000 years ago, when separate walls built by independent kingdoms to keep out warrior nomads, were linked together during Emperor Qin She Huang’s unification of China. Over the years, sections fell into disrepair, others were built upon and rebuilt. The majority of the remaining wall comes from the Ming Dynasty, complete with guard towers along its length. However, it ultimately failed to keep out Chinggis Khaan (Genghis Khan) and his Manchu armies from establishing foreign rule in China for over two and a half centuries.
Mutianyu is a 2250m long granite section of wall from the Ming Dynasty, a few hours bus ride from Beijing. As one of the best-preserved sections of the Great Wall, it is popular. However not as touristy as other parts, such as Badaling. Mutianyu stretches over rolling hills, presenting the postcard-perfect Great Wall snaking into the distance.
What makes Mutianyu special is, as well as a restored section (complete with pedestrian friendly stairs, handrails and a cable car), there are non-restored sections branching off of it.
Of course, these areas are signed-off as off-limits. But that didn’t stop two adventurous Aussies from exploring the REAL Great Wall.
We found a branch of the wall that was in ruins. Grass and trees were still growing all over it. As we ventured further, we navigated obstacles, crumbled sections and steep drop-offs.We were rewarded with amazing views of the wall in its natural state.
There was something magical about witnessing the Great Wall of China in this way. We were free to explore and enjoy it all to ourselves.
As the weather began to worsen, we made our way back.
But not before reflecting on the first Wonder of the World we had experienced.
And our third Bucket List item completed!
Visited 7th February 2014.