China is hot in May, Very hot. The humidity levels are incredible. So it happened to be, one hot and humid morning in May, my family and I set off on the 2-3 hour bus ride from our Hotel to the Great Wall of China. To say everything I had seen in China up to that point wasn’t impressive would be a gross understatement. China as most people know is a massive country with cities boasting huge populations of up to 25 million people. The colossal scale of these cities, the difficult terrain some of them are built on and how quickly they are getting built couldn’t help but leave me in awe on more than one occasion.
But The Great Wall as it is so aptly named is really something else. Measuring approximately 21,196 km (13,171 mi) it doesn’t take one long after entering its presence to begin to grasp what a monumental architectural achievement this structure is. The climb appears incredibly daunting because what one may not realise is the Great Wall of China is built literally over and through some very mountainous terrain. If one expected a nice leisurely stroll along one of the only man made structures visible from outer space then expect differently.
Standing there on that bitterly humid day appearing as if someone had tipped a bucket of (hot) water over my head, with 2 hours to be back on the bus, I surmised I had one hour to make it as far as possible up the wall then one hour to begin the somewhat more treacherous descent back down to make the bus in time before continuing the tour. After already previously leaving fellow tour group passengers stranded when they failed to make the bus in time I was under no illusions whether or not they would wait for me. The climb is steep and crowded, set after set of stairs some individual steps 50 centimetres (20 Inches) high and cruelly only 10-20 centimetre (4-8 Inches) deep forcing you to virtually climb up sideways at times. The section I was climbing, its width at points narrowed to 1 metre (3.3 ft) and with people going up, coming down and laying exhausted all over the stairs it can be tough going. Each section of wall leads to a guard tower of sorts where if you can find some space it pays to take a rest before beginning the next grueling section of climb. As you progress further thankfully the crowd thins down and you can take the time to truly appreciate the beautiful countryside and the indomitable nature of such a grand structure.
Heading down after climbing for a solid hour, as I expected was actually worse going than when you are heading up. You need strong knees and ankles for this and a calm patient nature as fellow tourists of all ages either go to slow or way to fast down the mountain potentially endangering you and everyone around them. Thankfully though I made it down in one piece and on time to make the bus.
China is an amazing Country and this was but one day on my trip and I urge anyone thinking of traveling to stop thinking about it and do it. I hope you enjoyed this article as it is my first one of this category and nature. Thanks for reading and rating.