After the hoards of folks at the Summer Palace & the Forbidden City, I was concerned about tour groups and a mob scene at the wall. I decided to try Simatai, as it was supposed to be one of the less “restored” public portions of the Great Wall.
I got lucky – the Great Wall at Simatai was beautiful and empty.
It took about 3 hours to get out there, which is past the travel time tolerance of most tour groups. This meant that Thursday morning, there were probably only 50 other folks out on the wall total. It took me about two hours up and down.
the great wall
karen on the wall
all the way up!
One of memorable (and exhausting) things about traveling in China is getting around when you don’t speak the language. I spent 30 minutes blindly walking around the Dongzhimen bus station, trying to say “Simiatai” and pointing to a Great Wall picture in my guidebook, before I found a random minibus heading in that direction. It just happened that on that same minibus, there was a Belgian also trying to get to the wall. We navigated the transportation challenges and hiked portions of the wall together, which leads to another memorable thing about traveling – sharing one-in-a-lifetime experiences with perfect strangers.