Leaving the Ming Tombs the bus traveled further into the Tianshou Mountains toward the Great Wall of China at Ba Da Ling. Everyone was excited to finally be heading toward the Great Wall. If the truth be known I think everyone on the trip had dreamt of one day walking the Great Wall as I know Anne, Carol, John and I had. Within minutes our dream would become a reality, or would it be a nightmare!

Anne, as expected, lived up to her "eagle eye" reputation by being the first to spot the Great Wall snaking its way along the mountain tops. Spotting it she yelled it out to the bus and everyone turned and looked. Everyone was amazed at the sight of it meandering its way along the very top of the mountain ridges up and down and through the mountains. I don't think anyone fully realized yet that it was raining now and not just drizzling. That realization would come when we arrived at the drop off point. Mei, our escort, advised us to either buy a light blue plastic rain coat or an umbrella as it was raining steadily. As soon as we left the bus we practiced our bargaining skills and purchased a large black umbrella for three US$. It was a throwaway umbrella, but it came in handy while we were at the Great Wall.

The BA DA Ling section of the Great Wall is one of the best preserved sections, and the site President Nixon visited on his historic trip to China in 1972. Entering at the BA DA Ling gate you have a choice to either to go left or right. To the right the wall you walk further along the wall as it climbs the hills more gradually. To the left the wall climbs at a much steeper angle. Arriving at the gate it was pouring and the wind was very strong. They wanted us to line up for a group picture at the entrance, but everyone yelled "forget it" and we were quickly through the turnstile and headed up the steps to the top of the Great Wall.
Great Wall of China, Ba Da Ling
Looking to the right we saw the more gradual ascent of the wall to the top, but we also saw a sea of light blue plastic raincoats. It seems almost everyone had opted for the easier climb and, therefore, it was much more crowded. Carol, John, Anne and I opted for less crowded but steeper left side, however, Alicia, the youngest of the entire group, accompanied the rest of the group to the right. Those that went to the right got to see a bit more than we did as it was the normal route for most tourist. For example, there was a camel on the wall that people could ride and pet and other things like that. To the left we got nothing but the Great Wall, but we weren't unhappy with that. If only it would have stopped raining it would have been perfect, but we managed anyhow.
Anne on the Great Wall of China, Ba Da Ling
Anne by a tower
Anne on the Great Wall of China, Ba Da Ling
Anne with the Great Wall behind her

Never mind the rain and the driving cold wind. Anne and I were finally realizing a lifelong dream. We were walking on the Great Wall of China. Of course we wished it was a sunnier and warmer day, we'd have enjoyed the walk more, but it was still thrilling.

I know you've heard and read much about the Great Wall and probably seen many pictures also, but visiting it you're in for a number of surprises.

I guess the first surprise is the shear size of the wall. It's immense. The wall stands over thirty feet tall and is constructed in sections with each section separated by guard towers. Supposedly the towers were strategically positioned so that archers could protect the wall half the distance to the next tower. That way archers in both towers could protect the entire length of the wall between the towers. They advertise that the wall is wide enough for ten soldiers or five horsemen to walk abreast of each other. The only thing is that there is no way five horsemen could have ever negotiated the wall. It was just too steep. At times it was almost as if you were climbing a ladder, there's no way horses could have ever made it up such steep inclines.

Pictures from the steeper left side ...

Me on the Great Wall of China, Ba Da Ling
Me standing on the Great Wall of China
The steeper left side of the Great Wall of China, Ba Da Ling
The steeper left side
Looking out at the wall
Steep stairs on the Great Wall of China, Ba Da Ling
Someone sitting and resting
on the way down
Steep stairs on the Great Wall of China, Ba Da Ling
Anne made it to the top
Anne at the top
John also made it to the top
John at the top
Very sttep stairs
Very sttep stairs
Views showing just how steep a climb it was to the top
Anne and I on the Great Wall of China, Ba Da Ling
Anne and I on the
Great Wall of China

I guess I have to fess up ... I didn't make it to the top of the Great Wall as did Anne and John. Neither did my sister Carol. I guess you might say we ran out of gas and decided to wait while John and Anne continued the adventure. Let there be no mistake, this was a tough climb for anyone to make especially in the wind and rain and Anne and John deserve credit for having made it. Anne did a good job taking pictures with the digital camera so we have her to thank for the pictures taken at the top.

Maybe one day we'll be able to go back and it will be a sunny and warm day. Wouldn't that be wonderful!?!

John wearing my new hat
John wearing my hat
Alicia wearing my new hat
Alicia wearing my hat
The hat I bought for my collection
Me and my new hat

Leaving the Great Wall we took a few minutes to stop and shop at the hundreds of vendors for souvenirs. We bought some T-shirts of course, some postcards and I had to add a hat to my collection. Getting back on the bus everyone just couldn't wait to try the hat on.

Now, let's continue onto the next page for our last day in Beijing and a visit to the Temple of Heaven ...

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Welcome to our China 2001 Photo Album
Planning and Getting there: Grand Circle Tours and Northwest Airlines
Beijing : Arriving in Beijing | Tiananmen Square | The Imperial (Forbidden) Palace (1) | The Imperial Palace (2) | The Nine Sons of the Dragon
The Imperial Palace Garden | The Summer Palace | Summer Palace (2) | Summer Palace (3) | Summer Palace (4) | Local Beijing Market
Local Beijing Market (2) | Hutong | Bell Tower | Hutong Family, Dinner and the Opera | Cloisonné Factory | Ming Tombs | Ming Tombs (2)
Great Wall of China at Ba Da Ling | Temple of Heaven
Shanghai : Arriving Shanghai | Yuyuan Garden | Yuyuan Garden (2) | The Temple of the Jade Buddha | The Bund | Day Excursion to Suzhou
Silk Process | The Administrator's Garden of Suzhou | Shanghai Museum of Art
Cruising the Yangtze River : Yangtze Cruise, Day 1 | Yangtze Cruise, Day 2 | The Xiling and Wu Gorge | The Lesser Three Gorges
The Lesser Three Gorges (2) | The Qutang Gorge | Wanxian | The Last Day of Cruising | Regal China Cruise Lines
Chongqing : Chongqing
Xi'an : Xi'an and Emperor Qin's Terracotta Warriors | Emperor's Qin's Terracotta Warriors (2) | Great Wild Goose Pagoda and Xi'an City Wall
Quilin : The Limestone Peaks of the Li River | The Limestone Peaks of the Li River (2) | Guilin and the Childrens Park | Children's Park (2) and Reed Flute Cave
The Hotels: Hotels, rail and air travel in China
Hong Kong : Victoria Peak, Repulse Bay and Aberdeen Fishing Village | Hong Kong at Sunset | Hong Kong Bird & Flower Market
| New Territories Fishing Village | Hong Kong Farewell Dinner
Bangkok : Jim Thompson House and Golden Buddha | The Flower Market | The Food Vendors | Grand Palace | Mystical Figures | Brightly Painted Masks on Mystical Figures
Golden Mystical Figures | Buildings of the Grand Palace | Lunching at the Shangri La Hotel | Loy Nava Rice Barge Cruise | Ayutthaya, Ancient Capital of Siam
Wat Yai Chai Mongkol and the Reclining Buddha | Bang Pa In, The Summer Palace |

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