When I initially found out that there was going to be a project meeting in Beijing I knew that I wanted to go and experience such a different culture. When I found out that there was going to be a trip to the Great Wall I knew that I'd make sure I got to go!
Whilst the idea that the wall can be seen from space, and even the moon, is nothing more than a myth (seeing the wall from the moon would be the same as seeing a human hair at a distance of two miles), it is a wonder of the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In other words, it is well worth visiting!
If you visit the wall from Beijing then it is more than likely that you will be taken to Badaling. In many places the Great Wall has disappeared or is badly in need of restoration, at Badaling, however, it has undergone substantial restoration and is well maintained over a very long distance. The wall follows the natural landscape in order to increase it's defensive capabilities and at Badaling this involves going steeply up the hillside on either side of the valley, giving visitors fantastic views of a long stretch of the wall.
The downside to building up valley sides is that walking along the wall can be very difficult. Some of the sections are exceedingly steep. Some bits are stepped and some are just ramps at about 40 degrees. My calf muscles certainly knew I'd been walking along the wall by the time I returned to the bus!
Apparently there is a Chinese saying which translates as; He who doesn’t reach the Great Wall is not a true man. Having now stood on the wall I guess I'm a true man!