What do you do when in Beijing? The same as everybody else; go see the wall. We decided to go see a little more remote section of the wall to try avoid the crowds; Jinshanling
To get out there we got a tour from our hostel, Quainmen Hostel. All the tours are pretty expensive, but some are better than others. Included was breakfast (cold mcdonalds anyone) and lunch (buffet, but you had to pay a fortune for the water). Those kind of things are to be expected, however the company we used took the longest possible way to get there to avoid toll roads. Thus we left at 6am to get to the wall, whereas some other tours who left at 7.30am got there at the same time. If you visit Jinshanling make sure your bus takes the new express motorway, it cuts out about 3-4 hours of travel, nothing worse than sitting in Beijing traffic in peak hour.
The history of the wall is both bloody and quite interesting. When you are on the wall it is very imposing, but it is easy to imagine the local authorities grinning at the prospect of all the trade caravans having to come through their gates and pay their taxes. Was the wall built on invasion fear propaganda to control local trade and fill ministers pockets?
The Jinshanling section of the wall contains some very steep hills which the wall climbs along, giving very impressive views.
It also contains renovated sections and orginal sections of the wall, which gives you a chance to see the original stonework.
Some sections are very steep indeed.
And a few sections are a little treacherous.
All in all it was a great day, especially after we clued onto the fact there was an expressway home, which we thencollected money for around the bus and got home 2 hours early.