KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
After a couple of disappointments with Tiananmen Square and Beijing Opera, Anil kept warning us not to expect too much of our visit to the Great Wall. He had read that the section of the wall closest to Beijing at Badaling had been rebuilt and was something of a circus with hundreds of tour buses and thousands of tourists spoiling the atmosphere. I was more optimistic as we drove out of the city for the first time.
The section at Badaling was first built during the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644) and was restored in the 1950s and 1980s. Two sections of the wall climb the hills in opposite directions from the main entrance. We chose the section to the left as it is steeper and therefore has fewer visitors. We were more than a little surprised at how steep some sections were, and we were all breathless when we finally reached the highest watchtower about a kilometer along the 6m-wide wall.
The wall disintegrates into ruins a little farther along so we paused to enjoy the pristine scenery and magnificent views of the hills in the distance. I was prepared for the hawked stalls near the parking lots, but they really should forbid the stalls on the Great Wall itself. At times it was hard to take photographs without having handicrafts in the way.
In the end, we were all suitably impressed and very glad that we hadn't taken the section of the wall to the right of the entrance. We could see the "wall-to-wall" crowds from our vantage point and enjoyed the relative calm on the steeper section.
Editor's Note: In China, the age of sixty qualifies you as a senior citizen. Hence, my first senior's discount - 45 Yuan instead of the usual 70 Yuan. The saving of 25 Yuan should get me half-a-dozen bottles of beer at the grocery store!!