In the hour long bus ride from our school in Beijing’s Chaoyang district to the Juyongguan (居庸关) Section of the Great Wall, I couldn’t help but wonder what seeing the famous landmark would be like in real life. One of the greatest man-made wonders of the world, the Great Wall in my mind had become this greatintimidating thing, a concrete representation of finally being here in China. I was both excited and nervous; excited to finally climb the wall, but nervous that it wouldn’t live up to my exaggerated expectations. As the bus made its way into the mountains my anticipation grew.
Finally we pulled up to our stop and I got my first glimpse of the Great Wall. The sheer size of it was impressive, coupled with the knowledge that it stretches far beyond what my eyes could see at any one moment. After taking copious group photos and selfies at the base of the wall we began to climb. One of the first things I noticed was how steep the section we were climbing was. Some of the steps were as high as my knee. It wasn’t long until we were all short of breath.
Thankfully due to the slight chill and gray sky there were very few other people on the wall as we marched on. Races were run, snacks were eaten, and even more pictures were taken. All in all, by the time we had packed up back in the bus I was fully satisfied with my first trip to the Great Wall. I can’t wait to explore it more and possibly try to climb an unrestored section at some future date.