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.
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.