I’d visited the Great Wall before. Back in 2012 when I was living in Guangdong Province, I took a trip to Beijing and visited the wall at its most popular visitor location Badaling. It was over-crowded, and the wall itself had been restored to a point that it looked more like an amusement park than an ancient ruin.
This time around, I wanted to see some of the original wall. One of the easier ways to do this is at Simatai. This portion of the wall is far from Beijing – almost a four-hour drive each way from downtown Beijing – but there are a number of backpacker’s hostels in Beijing that hire busses to make the trek. We signed up for one that left from the Downtown Backpackers Hostel, and caught the bus early in the morning.
The hike was about six kilometers along both restore and unrestored sections of the wall. Save for the occasional local hawking drinks and snacks, the wall was completely empty.
When we returned to Beijing the bus dropped us off in an old-style “Hutong” neighborhood. We met up with some of the people from the tour and wandered around the alleyways and found some dinner.