Around the end of our stay in Beijing, my friend arranged for us to join a Chinese tour group to go to the Great Wall. We visited other places first and had saved the best for last. My first experience of joining the Chinese tour group didn't leave a good impression on me and have since tried to avoid them. The tour guide yapped away non-stop throughout the whole journey which was quite annoying. I promise you, the tour-guide's voice blaring through the loud speaker, the loud humming of the bus engine, the humid/hot weather and cramped ride can really get to your nerves after a while. We finally reached Badaling Great wall, thankfully, without much further ado. Phew!
There are several Great Wall sections we can visit near Beijing. We went to Badaling which is the most popular and is the best preserved section and is close to Beijing. It is located over 70 kilometers north of Beijing. On reaching the gate, our tour guide bought us tickets which I thought to be the usual entrance ticket. I was very surprised when we were led to this individual sled that were joined together to ride up instead. It's uncomfortable on the way up but turns out to be quite enjoyable on our way down as the sleds were dismantled and we were able to ride and control it individually.
We finally made it to the top of the wall. We went past plenty of souvenir vendors and photographers trying to persuade us to buy their goods and have our pictures taken. Once we reached the foot of the place where we had to start climbing, it was a little overwhelming to see steps after steps leading up to each of the watch towers. I took a deep breath (also because I wore short skirt...lolz) as I could clearly see that the hike up and down was going to be a serious undertaking. It's hard to believe that the old women were also there to make the climb. It was equally unbelievable to see several women with high heel shoes! It took us quite a while to make our journey up the super steep stairs.
Once on reaching the tower, I could see the wall snaking all along the hills in a distant view. The climb was totally worth it and the view was spectacular. It still feels like a dream to have visited one of the (old and new) Seven Wonders of the World!