The Great Wall of China
At Badaling Pass
About 50 miles northwest of Beijing is the restored
Badaling Pass segment of the Great Wall.  The air
pollution is again obvious, especially compared to the
picture I took eight years earlier on the
highlights page.
At Badaling you must immediately choose between the
Hard Side and the Easy Side.  I'm a hiker, and chose the
Hard Side again.  You can see the stairs.  The Hard Side
means a great deal of climbing straight up, but the views
are worth it.  (Most people take the Easy Side.)   
The Great Wall certainly looks impregnable.  Construction
began 2,000 years ago, and it ultimately ran 4,000 miles along
China's northern borders.   Yet the wall was one of the most
expensive military failures in human history.  Invaders from
the north twice conquered China, apparently bribing guards
to let their armies march right through the Great Wall.  In
any case the wall failed.  Now the Great Wall is a complete
ruin, except for a few restorations.  Still great for hiking.
I am up so high now that portions of the Great Wall
below look extremely far away.  It's close to the finish line.
The Great Wall remains a wonderful photo opportunity
for tourists from China and every other country.
Few places in China offer more solitude than the very end of
the Hard Side at Badaling.  Nobody else in sight, unlike the
circus atmosphere full of crowds at the bottom and lower
sections.  After reaching the final tower in this picture, the
Great Wall reverts to a ruin, and I walked back down.  
Once again, the Great Wall is best presented in my video.
If you have a high speed internet connection, watch the Intrepid
Berkeley Explorer's free film of this trip by clicking on:
The Last Emperor's Home Video