The Great Wall of China … Needs No Introduction


The Great Wall of China.

“Chang cheng” – long wall – this marvel of human engineering and pure sweat is spectacular to see in person. And boy, did I sweat a lot on the Wall during our visit.

The Wall is built of stone and earth. Some crumbled sections date to the B.C. years, but most of the Wall was built during the Ming dynasty (around 1300 to 1600). The Wall was built to protect China from people to the north. In some places the stairs are so tall and steep that I was practically crawling along on my hands and knees.

One aspect of this study abroad program I didn’t think of before I arrived in China was that I cannot choose everything that I want to do here. For example, I hate crowds. I want to see my glorious monuments in peace. So when I found out our group would be visiting the Great Wall, I lobbied hard to drive a little further and walk a gorgeously deserted section and not the major tourist attraction that is the Badaling section. I had done all this research before I left on which are the best sections to go to, and I laid them all out for our organizers. I was assured by our organizers that we would be going to a less touristy section. But, when we arrived …

We were at Badaling. Look at the undulating wave of tourists dragging themselves up the Great Wall:

That’s a lot of people. I’m not easily disappointed, but I’m going to admit something to you guys – I thought I was going to cry. I was so disappointed. My one chance ever to see the Great Wall, and I was going to have to fight my way among the hundreds of tourists. Lesson learned … well, there is no lesson. There was nothing I could have done about it.

Anyway, the disappointment didn’t last all that long because the Great Wall is a wonder wherever you see it. I turned right instead of left when I reached the entrance to the Wall because the right is a harder climb and therefore less popular. We practically had this section of the wall to ourselves!

On the way up!

I’m surprised at how tall many of the stairs were.  These steps must have seemed insurmountable, especially in heavy armor.

The wall in this section is almost entirely restored, except for a few patches here and there.

Once we reached the top, we could go no further because the Wall was unwalkable beyond that point.

I can see why:

Walking down was just as hard. The stress on the knees is pretty high!

Check out this video of my perspective when walking down the wall:

And of the view from the Great Wall:

Don’t you just feel like you’re there with me? 🙂

For the rest of the post, I’m just going to show you pictures of scenery and such because, well, they’re pretty.

Inside one of the towers.

This is the section of the Wall we climbed first.

We also climbed up the other, more touristy side, but there was no difference on this side except for more tourists and more stands with people hawking junk. I’ll just ignore that aspect of the Wall and remember the fun part 🙂

Have a great day, everyone!

****P.S. By request of my professor, I’ve started a blog for our study abroad program. Check it out here if you’re interested: UConn Pharmacy in Beijing. I won’t be writing all of the posts, just the first one you see 🙂

****P.P.S. I know I’ll be trying Samantha‘s strength-training exercises when I get back from China. Will you?? I haven’t done any formal exercise since I’ve been in Beijing, but I’ve been walking everywhere, and if you read the UConn Pharmacy in Beijing link, you’ll see other ways I got a little exercise! 🙂


  1. Yes, I actually felt like I was there with you on those stairs! I was actually afraid that you were going to fall down though, because you were filming at the same time as walking down those stairs! And falling down those stairs would not have been very nice at all…

    P.S. I checked out your blog for UConn — it’s such a great idea! 🙂

    P.P.S. Yup, strength training is cool. I just don’t like to follow any rules when I strength train. I’m not a very ambitious exerciser, I suppose. No bikini goals for me! Ha.

  2. I really want to visit China, especially the Great Wall. I’m sorry you had to battle with tourists, isn’t that the worst? But it still looks amazing and you got some great pictures regardless.

    Walking down would definitely kill my already precarious knees. I should take a trip soon before I get too old to navigate any of the Great Wall! 🙂

  3. Wow, those are breathtaking views, absolutely magical! I hope you’re not in too much pain after all that climbing! It must have been quite the adventure 🙂 I also dislike crowds and tourist trap type areas, but it sounds like the magic of the place won out in this case 🙂 And taking the less travelled road always seems to pay off 🙂

  4. I totally feel like I’m right there with you! Oh my goodness, so amazing!! Now I REALLY want to go to China. Thanks for sharing all of your gorgeous photos with us!! 🙂

  5. I am sure this was an amazing feeling, walking on the great wall!
    Amazing pictures!

  6. Your pictures are stunning — I actually do feel like I’m right there with you experiencing it! 😉

  7. Awesome! I loved the Great Wall. Looks like you had better weather when you went than I did.

  8. hey Jessie!

    great pictures of the great wall! don’t ever give me a heart attack like that and tape while you’re going down the great wall of China…or any stairs for that matter. i was so scared you were going to fall, so glad you didn’t though.

    i’ve only been to China once way back when i was about 15 years old. i remember going up part of the great wall with my grandma who was about 70 years old at the time. she really loved it and so did i. i guess we must have taken the easy way up cause i don’t remember it being as steep as the stairs in your pictures. can you imagine jogging up and down the great wall everyday? i don’t know if that would be a treat or pure torture…haha. thank you for sharing your beautiful pictures and bringing me back to one of the most beautiful places i’ve ever visited in my life!

    Samantha gave us some really great links to some fantastic exercises so i will definitely try some of those exercises.

    oh and i also commented on your UConn pharmacy in Beijing post and the post before yours as well. hope you’re doing well my friend!

  9. Wow, how awesome! Thanks so much for sharing this experience with us! And I’m definitely in agreement with you – I would have researched and found a non-crowded area too. I hate throngs of tourists – I guess a by-product of growing up in a HUGE tourist attraction area. The shear desperation and volume of their persistance to see-see-see makes me nervous and antsy. I’d much prefer to slowly take things in at my own pace and not be pushed along, hear their shouts, or wait for picture opportunities.

  10. im so glad that its been restored pretty well.. i heard a lot about how it was crumbling and even the lightening strikes that have destroyed little bits and pieces! even tho theres a few cracks, it looks pretty great! walking along the wall is something very few actually get to acomplish and see in person! THIS IS AMAZING <3

  11. You are totalling rockin’ your whole study abroad experience in BeiJing Jessie. I know the crowds are super tough to get used to (almost claustrophobic! Try shopping in Hong Kong…it’s almost worst than that. hahah) but hope those views were worth it!

    Go you for starting a blog for your program. That’s a huge honor..hopefully it’ll be a tradition going forward!

  12. Magnificent photos of an amazing journey. Great job. What a wonderful trip.


  13. It looks SOOOO steep!! I love the pictures – it’s not what I pictured in my mind and your shots are much more telling than most pictures you see of the wall. So glad you’re sharing your trip on THIH!

  14. Such a fantastic photos!! And that video was awesome, I felt like I was right there with you!
    Sorry about the large crowd. I seriously don’t blame you at all for almost crying, I would have too. While I’m not completely against large crowds, climbing the Great Wall is not something I would want to do with hundreds of others! I’m glad it worked out in the end though.

  15. I’m so sorry about the huge crowd of tourists. I really relate to you, because I hate big crowds as well, and that’s why I usually avoid touristy locations. Unless it means passing up a once in a lifetime opportunity, in which case I just suck it up, like you did.

    Love the pictures! The view of the green hills is gorgeous and the wall is pretty incredible.

  16. when i was at the great wall of china i had an upset stomach. i remember being very traumatized with the state of the bathrooms.

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