Monday, June 22, 2009

Great Wall: Jiankou

I camped at the Jiankou ("Arrow's Nock") section of the Great Wall over the weekend and took about 800 pictures, and looking back I'm amazed all over again: there's not one bad shot in the batch. The views are simply that spectacular. Before I blabber on, just take a look:

What's unique about Jiankou -- other than the fact that three sections of the Wall connect here, Mutianyu to the east and Huanghua to the west, and that most professional photographs of the Wall are taken at this spot -- is it's completely devoid of tourists. In fact, there are signs in the village that say, "This part of the Wall is not open to the public." Just recently a couple hikers died at Jiankou, so our group of 10 were told twice to not go up there. Our guides, however, knew the deal: the villagers merely felt compelled to say "Don't go" so that they would not be liable in case something did happen. In actuality they didn't really care, though one lady was kind enough to say, as we breezed by and away from civilization, to "Be careful."

The accident, far from discouraging visitors, may have actually increased them. We encountered four other groups of hikers, including a pair that woke us at 3:30 a.m. with a stirring rendition of a nationalistic Chinese song. Our guides told us was they had never seen more than 10 people on a trip before, and for good reason: Jiankou is for experienced hikers, as there are steep sky stairs and loose rocks all over. But a little caution is worth the experience: treading over stones virtually untouched -- at least by construction cranes and souvenir vendors -- since Ming Dynasty workers placed them here a thousand years back.

I don't usually use this site for promotions, so you'll excuse me for saying this one time that if you want a great experience, go to Back Country Beijing and contact Aaron and Lincoln. Weekend getaways start at a very affordable price (RMB 400 to 600, depending on the size of the group), with tents and other camping gear, transportation and three meals all included. Yes, Aaron and Lincoln actually tote your tent up to the site with you, and -- if you ask nicely -- supply all the red wine you can drink. Take my word for it, when you're up there, even Great Wall wine is drinkable.

UPDATE: Lot more pictures here.

UPDATE 2: Video (and some more words) here.


Kevin Collier said...

Where are you? China?

ktkates87 said...

Great post! Hoping to go there in the next 6 months, however a little worried I'll collapse half-way through! It looks pretty tough.

Matt said...

Greate post love the pictures of the greate wall.

Ricky Wong said...

Thanks for this briiliant post and all the lovely pics--Your pictures are amazing. Just looking at those pictures make me want to climb the Great Wall of China now. I also found a great blog of Jinshanling travel tips, I’d love to share it here with you and for future travelers.