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Great Wall Mutianyu

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Well, I'm back from China and Singapore and still in the throes of jet lag. I have a couple of photo posts to process, but these are photos of my trip to the Great Wall Mutianyu. There are several Great Wall segments near Beijing, and I think I have been to most of them: Badaling, Mutianyu, Simitai, Huang Hua, Jinshanling. There are two more I have not visited. Any part of the Great Wall is fantastic, and they all have their own flavor.

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The cable car to the top of the Wall
I rode an open-air cable car to the top of the Wall. Note the toboggan slide on the left. Some idiots actually ride that thing down the mountainside. Who in their right mind would go down THAT thing?
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The Tobaggan Slide on the Way Down
Who indeed?
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Long Live Chairman Mao
On the mountaintop in the distance on the left there are a series of Chinese characters that spell out "Long Live Chairman Mao!"
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Just to give you an idea what the climb is like...
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Baomei at the Great Wall
I remembered enough Chinese to be able to take the bus from Dongzhimen station directly to the Great Wall, rather than pay for a tour group. Along the way I met up with Baomei and her husband and we climbed the Wall together.
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Comments

These are great pictures! (Which reminds me... I should go through my Italy pictures and post some.)

Since you're back, can I interest you in a bookcase?
Hey there! Please do post Italy photos.

How about $30 for your bookcase? I need to check with my car-owning peeps about picking it up. When are you around?
Let's talk about July 12, or the end of July. I think I leave on July 13 (I need to double-check my reservations). I am still recovering from jet lag!
That sounds good.

(Anonymous)

Cool pics

Hi Susan,

Just arrived in Cagli. I will take some tower pics for you! These were great!

Cindy

Re: Cool pics

Hey Cindy!

Good to hear from you. I'll bet the weather is a lot better in Cagli than it is here (100 degrees)! Say hi to Romano for me, and I look forward to your photos.
"I remembered enough Chinese to be able to take the bus from Dongzhimen station directly to the Great Wall"

Is it difficult to figure out the buses if you don't know any Chinese? Are any signs also in English? (Some are in Korea.)

Just wondering if I should try to book a tour for Mutianyu.
I guess a more general question is - how difficult is it to get by with only knowing Chinese pleasantries like Hello, How much is it, etc?

I see there are buses that leave to Mutianyu from Dongzhimen and also a bus that leaves from Tiannenmen, wondering which one is better to take. How long is the bus to Mutianyu?
Hi there,

It's not so difficult to get around Beijing just knowing pleasantries. Thanks to the Olympics most of the taxi drivers and shop keepers know some basic English, and all of the shopkeepers speak "calculator," so you can easily negotiate prices! With cab drivers it helps to have an address in Chinese or at least a map where you can show where you want to go. Most of the cab drivers understand English for the major tourist spots like "Tiananmen Square," "Airport," "Panjiayuan."

You can get around Beijing pretty easily (and VERY cheaply) via the subway system, which will take you to most of the major tourist spots. Just buy an ICT card (20 yuan deposit plus another 20-30 yuan to cover your actual fares) and you can swipe in on any subway or bus, just like in London.

I really preferred using the bus system to using a tour group to get to Mutianyu. Mostly I preferred this because I could spend as much time as I wanted at Mutianyu (otherwise you have to wait for your group, or your group has to wait for you). The tour buses also stop by the Ming Tombs on the way back, an experience I find both uninteresting and claustrophobic, but YMMV.

If you are taking the bus from Dongzhimen to Mutianyu Chang Cheng, you want to leave early in the morning. You want to be on the bus no later than 9 or 10am. This is both to give you enough time to get to the wall, explore it and get back and to get there early before the heat sets in. There are two buses from Dongzhimen:

* Bus 916 leaves from the Dongzhimen station about once every 20-30 minutes. It does not go all the way to Mutianyu. The guidebooks say you have to get off at Mingzhu Square (Huairou International Conference Center), and take a mini-bus to Mutianyu Great Wall. The bus makes several stops in Beijing, then gets on the highway, and then makes several stops in Huairou before you get off. Tell the bus driver you are going to Mutianyu Chang Cheng. At the correct stop, a minibus driver should come to the bus and announce that he goes to Mutianyu. Be careful tho, on our bus one of these drivers made the announcement a stop before the minibus stop. Ask your driver. It should cost no more than 50 yuan for the driver to take everyone on your bus to Mutianyu. If you are the only rider, it may cost you 50 yuan, but if you are with other people it should collectively cost about 50.

* Bus 936 goes direct to Mutianyu, but leaves from a stop outside of the Dongzhimen station proper. Also, there are a couple of 936 buses, so make sure that you ask for Mutianyu Chang Cheng. 936 also leaves once an hour.

I think it is easier to take 916 to the minibus to Mutianyu and then take 936 back. There is a big bus stop at the back of the parking lot at Mutianyu where you can wait for 936. Be warned, tho: The 936 I caught from Mutianyu broke down on the highway, everyone had to get out and wait for another bus. Luckily, as foreigners, the bus lady made sure we got on the next bus to Beijing, but it was crowded and uncomfortable and slow.

Thank you for post the wonderful photos. It sounds like you enjoyable trip. I hope you had nice 4th of July weekend despite the jet lag. Did you start a garden this year?
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June 2011

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