Before embarking on this trip, there were three key things I wanted to see in China: the Yangtze River (specifically the Three Gorges), Shanghai (for the modern skyline) and the Great Wall. Now, having visited the three, I can safely say that the Wall is my favourite -- hands down.
What an amazing sight it is, meandering its way through the mountains, all under the brilliance of a blue autumnal sky.
We were fortunate to visit the Mutyianu section, which was renovated in 1989, so in very good condition throughout. We were even more fortunate that there was hardly any other tourists about, so we had the place almost to ourselves. And we got the triple whammy, because the weather was perfect, too. It was very chilly (I was rugged up in five layers -- long sleeved t-shirt, t-shirt, zip-up fleece, quilt jacket and rain jacket) but once I got walking I had to shed a layer or two.
I wasn't really sure what to expect of the Wall, other than a giant structure, but I loved the sort of higgledy piggledy nature of it, and the way it went up and down the mountain tops, and stretched into the distance, as far as the eye can see.
I did not realise that it isn't terribly wide, and that great sections of it are comprised of steps. In one place there are 500 (see picture, above left) -- and that we would climb them to gain an even better view of our surroundings.
With only a-day-and-a-half to go, I can safely say that our tour organisers left the best sight until last! Seeing the Great Wall of China and walking along it represents a life-long ambition fulfilled.