Finding the Great Wall

April 17th

Destination: Simatai Great Wall

A two-hour drive outside of Beijing. Such a refreshing change from the masses of people.

As we were approaching the turn off for the section of the Great Wall we wanted to see, we read every sign. Ended up missing the turn and had to turn around. Every time you have to turn around on the highway you end up paying an additional highway toll.

Turns out at Simatai hasn’t been open for four years (closed in 2010), even though the only information we had about it was that it was named a UNESCO World Heritage site. The high way exit ended up being a place called Water Town. We guessed it was the right area because one of the buildings said 司马台. Yes, it was only in characters not pinyin. I’m glad someone in the car could read Chinese, because it wasn’t me.

We drove to the entrance of Water Town and still weren’t exactly sure if we could get to the Great Wall. Chinese tend to be quite vague in their answers. Perhaps it seemed more vague because I had to listen to the translation?

But long story short, we were able to walk through Water Town to get to the Simatai section of the Great Wall. Water Town just opened up this spring, so there were hardly any people. It was kind of eerie. Felt like a ghost town. There were mostly empty buildings. Also, it was clearly built for tourists, so we had to pay to walk through the town as well as pay an entrance fee to the Great Wall.

Water Town was fun and beautiful, but it did not compare to the beauty and awesomeness of The Great Wall. This was one of my most memorable and favorite days in China, so I’m going to subject you to a walk through of it.

Simatai

Here’s the only sign I saw that said Simatai Great Wall. Would have been helpful to have this marked on the highway.

We walked 1300 meters from Water Town to the great wall and kept stopping to take pictures. It was my first glimpse of the wall.

We walked 1300 meters from Water Town to the great wall and kept stopping to take pictures. It was my first glimpse of the wall.

We didn't get to walk on this part of the wall, just got to see it from the distance.

We didn’t get to walk on this part of the wall, just got to see it from the distance.

The Great Wall

Water Town is just far enough away to enjoy the wall.

Water Town is just far enough away to enjoy the wall.

The great thing is that they haven't reconstructed the wall much.

Much of Simatai has not been reconstructed which makes it all the more worthwhile to visit.

Absolutely amazing. I know why The Great Wall is one of the 7 Wonders of the World.

Absolutely amazing. I know why The Great Wall is one of the 7 Wonders of the World.

I walked with some Chinese tour guides to the tenth tower. It was their first time at the wall. They were taking notes so they could take tourists.

I walked with some Chinese tour guides to the tenth tower. It was their first time at the wall. They were taking notes so they could take tourists.

The steps were so steep at some points I felt like I was going to fall backwards. It didn't help that the steps were different widths, sometimes too small for my foot.

The steps were so steep at some points I felt like I was going to fall backwards. It didn’t help that the steps were different widths, sometimes too small for my foot.

The Great Wall

A step back in time.

The Great Wall

I walked through all ten towers, which is entirety of the section that is open to the public.

I walked through all ten towers, which is entirety of the section that is open to the public.

The Great Wall

We rode the cable car down back into Water Town.

We rode the cable car down back into Water Town.

Goodbye Water Town

Goodbye Water Town and Simatai.

We discovered a gem. I’m afraid it won’t last long because once there’s momentum there will be thousands of people flocking to visit Water Town and Simatai. Somehow we lucked out and were able to be one of the first here. I’m fairly certain we’re the first (or one of the first) foreigners to visit Water Town. It was definitely worth every penny.

 

 

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4 thoughts on “Finding the Great Wall

  1. What a fantastic place! You have captured it wonderfully well in your pictures. Glad you got this special memory of China at the time you did. Thanks for sharing!

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