Dr. David Silber 19.08.2010 rerelease 23.05.13
The Great Wall of China was a series of fortifications at the northern border of China. it is also said to be a dragon, whose body stretches across China. It was build by Qin Shi Huang (the famous emperor, who also built the famous Terracotta Warriors). Qin Shi Huang was most portrayed in the film 'Hero'. The earliest parts were build in the 7th century BC. Most of these fortifications are today in a bad shape and very dangerous places to visit. Every year several people die in climbing accidents at the "wild" parts of the Great Wall. However, there are some places, where you can safely climb the great wall.
One of these places is the Great Wall at Badaling. The Great Wall at Badaling was built in 1505, but has undergone restoration in the last 30 years. Therefore, it is safe to climb the Great Wall here. Nowadays up to millions of tourists visit this site. There is even an expressway from central Beijing, so you can be there in less than an hour.
Frankly speaking, at first I was a little bit disappointed. The renewished part of the Wall looked like it had only been built a recently and had no feel of mystery about it. However the sorounding mountains are spectacular. When you can out run the other tourists and climb higher than the mostly older tourists can, you can enjoy the great wall just for yourself. When I was way up, I could not see anyone for several minutes and found here a peaceful spot (which is hard thing to find in Beijing). But be warned not to go to fast. The Great Wall can be quite dangerous in some places. As you can see in the pictures, the angle of descent is steep and this is not a journey for the feint of heart. Chinese people do not seem to have a problem with these steep steps, since at several points you can find street vendors selling cold drinks to tourists. When you see the amount of bottles they have carried up you can hardly believe it.
To descent from the wall you just have to go on, since at Badaling you can go in circle. To walk arround the full circle you will need about 3-5 hours. At the foot of the mountains you can find a tourist market.
more photos of the Great Wall of China (Badaling)
You can find more photos of the Great Wall of China in a flick-gallery, which I curate.