Above the Great Wall of China

Jan 25, 2015

Wanting to make a video showing different parts of the wall I went to 6 different locations. Some more scenic than others. And I can tell you that the more scenic one I have been to were close to Beijing. My favourite being the hike between Jinshanling to Simatai.

Birthday on Juyongguan
I wanted to do something special for my 30th, so I went to the Great Wall at ... with my friend Zhao. The place is real close to Beijing, about 40 minutes drive. The start of the hike is in a valley and goes up on each side. The bummer is that there is a highway at the bottom of the valley which makes the spot quiet noisy in some parts. Otherwise, once reaching the top of one side, it is impressive to see the other side and the surroundings. Once at the top we took out a cake and tried to light up candles but the wind did not allow us to do so. Anyway, cake in one hand, quadcopter in the other, I was ready to celebrate my 30th birthday on the Great Wall of China!

My 30th birthday on the Great Wall

Despite the wind I took the drone for a short flight... anding up in a minor crash with no consequences beside replacing propellers. Juyo... is not the most scenic spot to visit the wall but its proximity to Beijing makes it a good alternative to the over crowded spot Badaling, a few kilometers further. Badaling is the most crowded part of the wall open to the public, and it is easy to understand why once you get there. Which by the way is fairly easy since there is a train station. But you will also find lots of restaurants, hotels and shops

View from the top of Juyongguan

Hike from Jinshanling to Simatai
My favourite spot I have been to. I did a day trip organized by the hostel. It is about 3h drive from Beijing. The hike is 6km long and takes about 2h30 - 3h at a nice pace regularly stopping to take pictures, and fly your quadcopter :). This part of the wall is on the top of a mountain so you have a breathtaking view from up there. You also see how far the wall stretches each way. The hike was not too strenous but there is a lot of stairs and some are really steep

The stairs can be very steep


3 spots in Shanhaiguan and around

Those were far from the scenic spots but one of them was quiet important for me as I really wanted to include it in my video; it is the start of the Wall... or the end depending which way you take it. Well, if you do not have as much time as I did in Beijing, you can safely skip it as it is not really pretty. Seriously, it is in what can be described as an outdoor museum in which you find different sorts of statues, small buildings and the start of the wall a few meters in the water. On top of that, when facing the water, you see a toms of cargo ships (there is a port not far).
On my first day there I wanted to go to Jiaoshan but the taxi driver might have not understod what I was trying to explain as he drove me to a completely different spot further away, it is called Jiumenkou. No big deal, I just thought "Another part to film". Turned out to be a part where you can find one of the few bridges of the Great Wall. The bad part is the entrance fee. ¥60 / 8€ / $10 for something that you can walk through in just 15 minutes, seems to be expensive for what it is.

One of the few bridges on the Great Wall in

So the following day is when I went to the start of the wall (with the same taxi driver) it is in Laolongtou This spot is just about 3 kilometers from Shanhaiguan center. The entrance fee, ¥30 / 4€ / $5 is probably not worth it either.

The start of the Great Wall in Laolongtou

Then I finally went to Jiaoshan and took another video there. The most scenic spot of the 3, and the cheapest ¥10 / 1.5€ / $1.6, as you hike up a mountain on the wall and you then get a nice view of the surrounding from the top. You can either hike or take the cable car, but it is closed during the low season. 


I finished my little tour around 12 pm but my train back to Beijing was not before 5pm, I had to check out of the hotel room at 2pm, so that would leave me 3 hours to kill in a city with no great interest... So I decided to see if I could change my ticket to take an earlier train. And coming from France with all those conditions when you buy train tickets, like the cheapest ones are not refundable or you cannot change them without paying a fee because depending on the time you take your train the price could double. Well, none of this nonesense in China. I just went to the ticket office, put my phone on the window on which I had previously translated the phrase "Can I please change my ticket to the D74 train at 3:15pm to Biejing?", the woman nodded her head yes, printed another ticket, and that was it! piece of cake! I love it when things go smoothly like that. Go try to do that in France. no, seriously go ahead and let me know in the comments below how it went ;-)

On my last in Beijing, I met with my friend Tingerine. I had met her on the Trans-Mongolian train from Irkutsk to Ulan Bator. She was on her way back to Beijing with one of her friends. She is a film director now living in New York city and with her cousin they took me to Mutinyau, about 1.5h driving from Beijing. On the way there, we stopped in Mutinyau village to have lunch. You can choose the kind if fish you want from the bassin they have outside the restaurant and 10-15 minutes later it is on the table. Can hardly eat fresher than that. Once on the wall I took a couple of videos with my quadcopter. The weather was hazy but it is a beautiful part of the wall to hike.

The Great wall of China is a must see if you go to Beijing, and not only because of the history and all the fuzz around it. But once you're walking on it and you see that it stretches for kilometers in front and behind you through the mountains, it is just an amazing feeling. You feel both so puny. If you had to choose one spot to go to, I would highly recommend you to do the hike from Jinshanling to Simatai.

And you, where did you go on The Great Wall?

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