07 June 2012

The Great Wall of China

One of the places that work has sent me recently was mainland China. I found myself with an extra 18 hours between my lay over in Beijing to the destination of the World Wide Meeting in Shanghai. As such I took the opportunity to grab my camera and go see one of the world's great wonders, The Great Wall of China.

My first trip to the Great Wall
JinShanLing section of the Great Wall
I speak Chinese, so navigating the city and getting to the Great Wall wasn't too difficult. However for  those who are planners and worry warts... book your tickets ahead of time and print out every copy for receipts. 

As for everyone else? Any hotel in Beijing will have a daily, if not hourly tour group to go to the Great Wall. I found when I priced the difference between a taxi ride and the tour-- there was only a 20 USD difference and it was worth the peace of mind to me to be on a tour group.

The Great Wall was actually several walls built in different dynasties that was eventually connected to form one wall under Emperor Qui-ShanHang (the first Emperor of China). A really good paper on the History of the Great Wall can be found here.

The best place to visit the Great Wall is Beijing, which has the most open to the public sections. Most tourists elect to go to the Badaling section of the wall (it's closest), but is a smaller stretch of wall and has four times the number of people-- so instead, I went to the Jin Shan Ling section. This section had seven towers, an air car lift and... a toboggan to get back down (I love toboggan's and hadn't seen one since I used to live in Europe. Basically a metal slide with a cart you can zip down a mountainside on!). 

Going up to the top of the wall using the Air-Car , gorgeous mountain views. 
The Toboggan to get back down from the Wall.

Since I was traveling across China on this trip and traveling mostly on my own--I didn't bring my usual photo kit and instead only brought my D700 + the 35-70 mm midrange zoom (I even left my favorite 50mm at home!).  The weather ended up being gorgeous at the Wall, so photos turned out fairly well.

SO here are some of the edited favorite photos:

The wall, in the distance.
Arriving at the entrance to the sky-car to the top of the Wall. Vendors lined the entry way.
 (Black and White put the emphasis back on the Wall in the distance). 
You can see the wall trailing beyond the section that I'm standing on!

Third Tower to climb
Climbing the section of the wall.
The sections are unbelievably steep n some places, but very shallow and narrow in others. This section was the Watch/Arrow Tower.

New Section of Wall Grafiti
I love to notice the graffiti on items. The views of the mountains from the Wall are really breathtaking. 

Apparently even refreshments are exhausting
I didn't think that business was so heavy that she felt perfectly okay taking a nap. This is where you could purchase a 4.00 bottle of water (to put into perspective, most water costs less than .30USD)

Stairs are so steep
Get an idea of how steep the stairs were going to the last tower.

The mortar was made out of rice paste originally
You can tell if you are at an un-restored section of the Wall by looking at the mortar of the bricks.
The Great Wall is held together mostly by... Sticky Rice

The stairs are steep
It surprised me that most of the visitors to the Wall were actually all... Chinese. There were very few foreigners at this section of the Wall.
The number of statues on the end of your roof indicated your status. Because this section of the wall had a armored watch tower, this roof has more than the normal number of figures. 

 I'm glad that I got to visit the Wall. Although the inner geek spent a large part of trip wishing I had someone I could discuss what we could do to be spotted from Space (since the Wall was visible already)-- I still enjoyed getting to photograph and see the wall myself. I hope to come back some time and be able to bring my tripod, flash and a few more lenses to be able to capture how majestic the wall --- and China's mountain-side is.

I'll leave this post with my favorite photo of the trip. 

  The Mountains up at the Wall