Have a Unique Trip in China—Sleeping on the Greet Wall

Everyone has a particular travel dream regardless of how large or small. Among my most compelling travel dreams has been to sleep on the Great Wall.

The initial time I visited the Great Wall was at Simatai five years ago  with a tour group from a Beijing youth hostel. Although admiring the view from an ancient gate house right after a few hours’ walk on the wall, I was suddenly struck by the idea of how cool it would be if I could sleep on the wall. Since that time I’ve been slightly obsessed with the dream of sleeping on the wall. This travel dream became reality immediately after two months planning with my buddy and travel buddy K American girl.

◆Preparation
Because Simatai is closed for restoration and no critical traveler in their right thoughts could be observed on Badaling, our program was to go to Mutianyu first. Spoke to a friend who’d been to Gubeikou and after doing some investigation, decided that go for Gubeikou.

◆Equipment
1. Sleeping bags (K2 rated for -18C as well as a Colombia rated for -20C)
2. Foam jigsaw mats for a mattress.
3. Sturdy hiking shoes.
4. Significant back pack.
5. Camera and spare batteries.
6. Bag of Muesli.
7. Australian sunglasses and two liters of water.

The First Day
The trip
We arrived at Beijing train station at 6:00am in the morning fired up and ready to go. And then took the subway at the Beijing train station subway stop to Dongzhimen subway cease where we exited the subway at the B exit and headed east to Dongzhimen long distance bus station. The program was to catch either a Luanping or Chengde bus and get off in the GubeiKou cease.

We arrived at an enormous bus stop outside the Dongzhimen subway exit and caught a 980 quick bus to Miyun where we planned to change buses for Gubeikou. Our bus driver dropped us of in Miyun 70 minutes later amongst a very welcoming group of touts. The bus driver must have been on the tout payroll. Fortunately the touts were busy harassing a crowd of Chinese tourist so K and I made a fast escape.

The Great wall of China
The Gubeikou wall is about 20 kilometers long and is separated into four sections. Wohushan, Panlongshan, Jianshanling and Simatai. The Gubeikou township is positioned in a valley that runs from north to south between Wohushan and Panlongshan sections and splits the wall in two.

The Panlongshan section towards the east is longer than the Wohushan section towards the west of Gubeikou township which is completely unrestored. The majority of the longer Panlongshan section has been partially or entirely restored. K preferred to hike the unrestored a part of the wall so we headed west to climb Wohushan. The official translation of Wohushan is crouching tiger mountain. It could also be translated as bed or bedroom tiger mountain.
The Wohusha section of the wall has had no work carried out on it since 1567 and is within a totally unrestored and deteriorated condition. In the beginning point of this section at the edge of the township, there is certainly no wall at all. Only the crumbling remains of two watch towers. The situation of the wall generally improves as you travel west ward.

In the final part of the trek right after the summit, the wall all but disappears as it cross over an incredibly narrow ridge is no more than roughly 60cm wide. The wall tail stops abruptly and finishes at a peak that leads to a precipitous drop. The wall starts again on the other peak on the other side of the drop. There’s no strategy to cross the drop so the only method to continue to stick to the wall will be to back track most of the way down Wohushan mountain and take a several hour detour.

The views from this part of the wall were wonderful with ridges and mountains on three sides and distant views of the wall straddling mountain peaks to both the west and east. K and I decided to camp there for the night exactly where we had grandstand views of the sunset and sunrise over the surrounding mountains.

The Second Day
After the whole night sleeping in the bags, we woke up to the alarm at 5am. The surrounding mountains had been covered in mist so the distant sections with the wall weren’t visible. This offered an eerie and poignant backdrop for the sunrise. We ate breakfast, rested than rolled up the sleeping bags, packed our bags and set of down the wall back towards the Gubeikou town ship. Like cats climbing up trees, we found the hike down far more difficult than the hike up.

Back Home
There’s a huge police check point straddling the high way that runs north through the valley. All buses to Beijing stop at this check point so catching a bus straight to Beijing is quite simple. I stuck it out and took the next bus that had only standing room. Fortunately I managed to acquire a seat after half an hour. The bus trip took two hours and we had been dropped off next to the Sanyuanqiao subway stop on line 10.

Costs
●460RMB Train fare from Changchun to Beijing and back
●320RMB Colombia -20C rated sleeping bag
●160RMB one night in the hotel
●60RMB Fares from Beijing to Gubeikou and back
●50RMB Food and water
It will cost you 1050RMB total for an wonderful night sleeping on the Wonderful Wall.