Some of the earlier sections were made from stone, wood and compacted earth, but during the Qin Dynasty (221-207BC) glutinous rice flour was used to make the binding material for the bricks.
The wall crosses through nine provinces so there are many places to view it but the condition varies; some sections have been completely restored yet others have crumbled away and are unrecognisable. Much of the original length of the wall has disappeared, if it were still in-tact, the wall would cover a staggering length of 21,196.18 km (13,170 miles)! Sadly, it is not true that you can see it from space with the naked eye! This is just a myth but it can be seen with aid!
It is estimated that around 4 million people (possibly more) constructed the Great Wall. The labour force to build the Great Wall included forcibly recruited peasants, soldiers, slaves, convicts and war prisoners. It is reputed that more than a million people died building it.
Like I said, plenty of historical statistics!
Which section should I visit??
You can start on the beach in the north east at Hushan, hike various sections along the route or visit during a day trip – the wall has something for everyone!
Badaling is the most visited section and at its busiest times can receive as many as 70,000 per day!
The Mutianyu section in Huairou Country, 73 km (45 miles) north of central Beijing, is the one we visited and it took us around 1½ hours to drive (it isn’t convenient to travel by public transport to this part of the wall). This section is quieter and less touristy in comparison to other areas, it’s also the longest fully-restored section open to tourists and has 23 original-style watchtowers 100 meters apart, covering a 2 ½ km in total.
All of a sudden, a flood of emotions came over me like a tidal wave. The realisation that I was standing on the Great Wall of China hit me and I was a little teary.
If I have one negative to say it is that it is too perfect because it has been fully restored. I know that sounds ridiculous but sometimes you want to see that it is 2,300 years old, you want to visually see the history but at this section, there are practically no dilapidated parts. When we look at the photos it looks as though you are standing on something new. This sounds ridiculous I know (that it's "too perfect") but in all honesty, I would not want to change the experience I had at Mutianya in any way!!
We may have felt satisfied immediately upon leaving, but in truth, now that time has passed, if I ever get an opportunity to go to China again, I would really love to return to the Wall. Next time, however, I want to up the ante of my bucket list tick off, next time I want to trek along it and feel the its truth length as my feet tire from walking mile after mile, kilometre after kilometre! Another one for the Bucket list I think…
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