We immediately rule out the possibility of going to Badaling. It is the most visited part of the Great Wall, being quite restored and being one of the closest to the city of Beijing. They commented several guides and websites that is a type of Disneyland: all full of shops and souvenirs with a wall that has little of the original. Anyway, for those who are interested, comment that the tours to Badaling are usually the cheapest if you book with an agency.
We had spent the previous day with inquiries and visits to ticket offices and train stations to get the ticket to Xian (in fact, I write this unveiled on the bed of the train that is taking us there) and we decided to go from moves and races for the visit that makes us more excited in China. In addition, the tour price that the hostel gave us we found the best: 220Y (less than 30 euros to change) per person. This includes transportation, the entrance -sale for 45Y if you buy it separately-, the visit to the tombs of the emperors of the Ming dynasty-40Y entry included- a meal -nothing of shabby bag with sandwich, but delicious Chinese food in a restaurant- and visits to a jade factory, a silk factory and a tea shop.
Of course, if you opt for a tour, beware of the prices they offer. From what we saw on the internet and on the street, our hostel gave us a more than reasonable price, but there are others who want to take advantage of the tourist, as everywhere.
The visits to the factories are of a commercial nature, but they are not overwhelming just for you to buy and that of the silk factory and the tea shop were really interesting.
They came to pick us up at the hostel at 8 am and we were a group of only 8 people accompanied by Laura, a Chinese guide who spoke English.
After a first stop at the jade factory, we arrived at tombs of the Ming. The cold was intense and there were hardly any people. Three graves - as if they were colorful houses - remain open to the public. The color of both the interior and exterior is very striking and the guide explained some history about the Ming and some tradition that people still fulfill today, such as passing each door lintel first with the left leg for men and right for women, if they want to get lucky.
After about 45 minutes we headed to the big star of the day: the big Wall.
The road is an hour in which we cross villages and towns of very poor appearance, in which people were simply sitting in the sun, watching life go by. Some frozen creek was the only nearby trace of water and the trees had a somewhat sad brown color, consistent with the views.
Upon reaching Mutianyu some souvenir sellers approached us but they never insist too much and you can rest easy.
To access the wall you can take the chair lift for 65Y or climb a stairway that can take about 25 minutes if you are moderately fit. The guide told us that it would take 45 minutes on foot but we ignored it and we were the only ones who chose the mountain on the chairlift. When in 20 minutes we reached the wall and saw our colleagues complaining about the state of the chair lift, we realized that we chose the best option.
They left us 2 hours to visit our ball. If the guide asks you how long you want to stay there do not cut yourself and tell him what you want. She initially proposed an hour and a quarter and the whole group shut up. I saw him very little and said 2 hours, although later I realized that he would have thrown me there much longer.
The Great Wall had a hypnotizing power in me. To contemplate that construction, to see how it extends through the mountains, with its watchtowers every certain distance; thinking about the human effort that was needed, the battles and skirmishes that should have been given, etc ... etc.
I made the mental effort that I usually do in places like this: try to imagine it at the time it was built and used. Hopefully in the future something is invented that can make you live that feeling in a real way. It would be great!
We went up and down the steep steps to the east, where we could see a part of the ancient wall, almost demolished by the passing of the years. There were hardly any people and we managed to be alone with the Wall when we passed a “No trespassing” sign and started walking through one of the sections that is covered by bushes and weeds and whose path is only dirt.
Following this path we reach a watchtower almost completely demolished from where the views were really imperial. There we sat at the Sun and contemplated a small part of this work of colossal magnitude.
The 2 hours flew by. Although it was almost impossible mission to continue where we had gone, I would have liked to explore the west side more - although it was more reconstructed - or just sit and watch and relax.
We descended again walking and went to eat with the group.
In the afternoon we visit the silk and tea shop, which surprised us very positively, learning things about both goods that I totally did not know.
They returned us to the hostel at about 5 pm and we were really satisfied with the great tour they had given us.
At night, sheltered in the bunk of the hostel, I remembered that wall and imagined the troops of Genghis Khan assaulting them while the arrows whistled everywhere and the warriors put the scales to kill the defenders. I-Pad, I-pod, last generation mobiles ... but, for when the time machine ?. Come scientists, to put the batteries that I want to be able to teleport in time before patting it.