The Great Wall of China Mutianyu and Huanghau sections

I have to say that the Great Wall is one of the most impressive and awesome things I've ever seen, the wall was originally built in several sections by the leaders of various areas of what is now China, they were united under one leader and the wall was joined.  I can see why it has been likened to a great dragon resting on the mountains.  We went first to Mutianyu with friends but I felt like I hadn't really had enough of it.  It was so impressive and I wanted a chance to really be there for a while, to just sit and look at the views and walk the steps and feel the stones that took so many years and lives to set and build and  to explore the guardhouses.  I also wanted to see a part of the wall that was not so "touristy".  Lonely Planet recommended a section of wall at Huanghua, Yellow Flower Fortress.  They warned that the government was considering banning climbing on this part of the wall as they want to direct tourists to parts of the wall that generate income. 



The Mutianyu section of the Great Wall is well set up for tourism, complete with masses of pushy souvenir hawkers, cafes and a cable car to haul you up to the wall.

ye GODS but that gave me a start going down

the gauntlet

Naveen sits down for a shotlimo drivers or bodyguards, gambling with cards on the wall

Mike in a guardhouse, there were also steps down to the outside of the wall here and there if you wanted to explore

Mike, Kevin and Naveenthe view through an arrowslit

the Charlie seriesCharlie as Baba Yega!


Lara Croft, Tombraider II...enough said


Huanghua - Yellow Flower Fortress


So then on Saturday, we had the hotel pack a lunch for us and we headed off for Huanghua.  It was an hour and a half's drive into a beautiful rural landscape.  Lonely Planet had warned us that the government was considering closing down this part of the wall to climbers.  Sure enough there were huge blue government signs warning that climbing that section of the wall was forbidden.  Well, you know what that meant. Up we went.   A few souvenir hawkers have gotten wind of the interest in that section but there were only three and they were simple enough to get rid of.  We had to cross the narrow bridge of a dam across the river.  Then we climbed some switchbacks to get to the wall and then had to get on to the wall via a rusty portable staircase and then a ladder made of branches.  We paid some farmer two yuan to get onto the wall and later another farmer who had made a lovely gate of branches and barbed wire asked us for another 20 yuan.  This section of the Great Wall was built by a Lord Cai, his meticulous attention to detail resulted in a very long building process with workers completing an estimated square inch per DAY.  When the emperor discovered this wasteful excess, he had Lord Cai beheaded.  Despite the trauma of the beheading, Lord Cai's body stayed upright for three days finally toppling on the third day.  Years later that section of the wall was inspected and was found to be so well made that Lord Cai was "rehabilitated" or forgiven.  A bit late for Lord Cai to enjoy though.  It is a testimony to his work that this section of the wall stands strong and for the most part intact despite little rebuilding and refurbishing.  I'm sure with his methods, the rumors of bones and bodies forming part of the structure are quite true.  The wall is said to be the largest graveyard in the world and I did pause for a moment and say a prayer for all the people who died building it.  The wall is maintained only by farmers here, one who had an amusing badge announcing that he was manager of the Great Wall.  They do a fairly good job though one guardhouse was full of human excrement and there was trash here and there sadly.  Mostly though, it's beautiful and I would go again any day.  The climbing of some areas exhausted me.  I had no idea how steep the ramps and how steep and shallow some of the stairs would be.  Mike of course demanded that we climb to the topmost guardhouse in this section and grumbling I made that last haul.  Going up was bad, coming down was terrifying.  I had to stop looking down the steps completely and just go hands and backside from step to step.  The wall is so isolated there that if you fall you are in trouble.  Especially if you are alone.  It was not at all crowded and often we could see no one else in either direction.  We met some nice Chinese and many a "nihow" was exchanged.  We met some Germans, a bunch of handsome Israeli backpackers and one American.  As the sunny day progressed, it became cloudy and overcast with a light rain.  It was beautiful in both conditions.

we crossed that bridge when we came to it..ahah, it's a damlooking down on the dam from the wall

views of the locale around the dam from the wall

thus Yellow Flower Fortresslittle lizard friend

this guy almost crawled on me and despite my fear of spiders I thought he was fascinating, look at him, he is made to exactly blend with the wall, he is gray with whitish specks, his body has yellow splotches the exact color of the lichen that grows on the wall and when the lichen dies it turns black, the other color found on this spider.  Talk about evolving to match your surroundings.

this ancient tablet with decorative motif around the edge and Chinese characters was just leaning on the wall, no clue as to what it said or what it was for

climbing up from the dam

guardhouses and windows

bloody hellwhere we are headed, the highest guardhouse in this section

we met one American on the wall, this is himsome Germans

tiny little me

just unbelievable views

I am standing up straight in this picture, and this wasn't the steepest part, coming down when we were at this angle and taking little baby steps, I couldn't even look at Mike as if I saw him at that angle a wave of vertigo would wash over me

hard to tell but this is looking straight down about 30 feet of narrow little steps

which is why it just looks like a dropoff in some areas, it almost is

at the top, Mike is delighted, I'm a little pissed as the last climb was scary and we still have to go back down

Mind you, it was worse in the section of wall that continued on down past the top here and that is where the Israelis came from, you could actually get down off the wall and cut across the mountain on switchbacks but where's the fun in that?