Badaling Great Wall

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Badaling Great Wall

Features: firm and magnificent, well preserved and original
Hiking Area: east and west sections
Hiking Time: 2 - 3 hours for each section
Hiking Level: biginner - intermediate
Distance: 80km from downtown Beijing
Cable car: available at the east section of the Great Wall

Today is August 29, 2008, the first day on my 5-day trip to the Great Wall in Beijing covering the six sections of the Great Wall in Beijing - Badaling Great Wall, Juyongguan Pass Great Wall, Huanghuacheng Great Wall, Mutianyu Great Wall, Jinshanling Great Wall and Simatai Great Wall. Actually I follow a two-person small hiking group ( Mr. Julian and Mrs. Gaby ) from Britain organized by our own tour company. They are on a trip to China to celeberate their 20 years' wedding anniversary.
At 10:30am we start from their lodging hotel in downtown Beijig, it is raining and overcast. I'm a little worried about the visibility on the great wall. Our first Great Wall stop is Badaling Great Wall. Badaling Great Wall is about 80km north-west of Beijing. It is a 1.5-hour's smooth drive along the Badaling Highway. When we get to the Badaling Great Wall, there is no rain at all, but a little overcast. It is foggy and misty. So we expect to see the Great Wall in the mist. In summer, we do have a changeable weather.
Many first-time travelers choose the Great Wall at Badaling. It is one of the most gorgeous and magnificent part of the Great Wall in Beijing. The Badaling Great Wall is the well preserved Ming Dynasty Great Wall with original appearance.
Now it is divided into two sections - east and west starting at the Badaling Pass and Gate. Most people prefer to climb the east section where the highest watch tower is located. Also the cableway is available on the east section. So many people climb up the east section of the Great Wall, then take the cable car down.
To hike up the east section of the Badaling Great Wall, you have two starting points - either from the Badaling Pass or the Badaling Bear Park. Why two starting points? Actually the east Badaling Great Wall has two parallel sections meeting at the most eastern tip (a curve) of the Badaling Great Wall.
We often call the two east parallel sections "front mountain" and "back mountain". The "front mountain" is to the north of the "back mountain". If you want to climb up the east "front mountain" Badaling Great Wall, you start from the Badaling Pass; if you climb up the east "back mountain" Badaling Great Wall, you start from the Badaling Bear Park.
If you decide to take a cable car up the Great Wall, you have to go to the cable station available at the foot of the east part of the east "front mountain". In a word, if you have strong legs, we suggest you hike up from the Badaling Pass toward the east "back mountain" Badaling Great Wall, then hike back or take a cable car down, or hike down the east "back mountain" Badaling Great Wall to the Bear Park.
Some tourists don't choose the Badaling Great Wall. They think Badaling Great Wall is too touristy! "Tourity" is now a bad word for any tour destination. But why is it too touristy? It is "too touristy" because Badaling Great Wall is too well-known and attractive. To avoid being too touristy means you would like to choose other sections of the Great Wall like Mutianyu, Juyongguan, Jinshanling or Simatai. But the fact is the other sections are "touisty" too, or will be "too touristy" too, sooner or later simply because many of "you" think they are not touristy! The Great Wall is a little bit tired due to the fast increase of the tourists coming to Beijing.
The Badaling Great Wall is worth being listed on your Great Wall hiking travel plan. Your Badaling Great Wall hike can be easily customized to include the Ming Tombs or Summer Palace on your one day trip.

Having Lunch at Badaling Hotel
We arrive at the Badaling Great Wall at 12:00 and have lunch at Badaling Great Wall Hotel. We enter the main building. The first floor is a huge shop selling various kinds of tourist stuff. The restaurant is on the second floor. They offer very good buffet lunch.

Taking the cable car up the Great Wall
If you are not a professional hiker or sportsman, we suggest you have a one way great wall hiking by taking the cable way up or down to save your time and energy. Many tourists choose to take the cable up to the mountain, then walk down the Great Wall. The cableway in Badaling is a little outdated, but its safety is out of the question. It is under regular and strict check. One cable car holds four people.

West section of the Badaling Great Wall
The cable car lifts us to the middle part of the Badaling Great Wall. We decide to hike the east section. Maybe next time I would like to climb the west section. I take some pictures of the west section of the Badaling Great Wall from our starting point - "Haohanpo" ( a real hero' slope ).