Sliding down the Great Wall of China

Entrance to tomb of Emperor Zhu Yijun (1563 – 1620)

We booked a tour, which consisted of us, an English speaking local guide and a driver, for a day out at the Great Wall of China and the Ming Tombs. The day started with a stop at the jade shop. We could have opted out of this part of the tour for a cost of $20 extra each.  That’s right, you pay more if you don’t want to attend the mandatory shopping.  So we obediently looked around the jade shop, admired the art work and left without spending a yuan, then headed on to the Ming Tombs.

Tomb headstone

I was surprised at how quickly we left Beijing behind and started driving along country roads and by farmlands. We visited a tomb where Ming Dynasty Emperor Zhu Yijun (1563 – 1620) was buried.  The construction of the tomb started when he was 22 years old.  It’s a strange concept to me preparing for your death at such an early age. I wonder what impact it has on the way you live your life? The Ming tombs are not small mausoleums, they were built as hidden palaces, replicating that which the Emperor lived in but on a slightly smaller scale. While the tomb we visited was not elaborate, as the relics have been removed, it’s fascinating that this huge underground tomb was hidden for hundreds of years. In the 1950’s even when archaeologists knew the tomb was there, it took them years before they could find a way in, so cleverly constructed and protected was the tomb.

The gate between now and the netherworld

On the way back from the tomb there is a gate which you step through which marks the space between the real world and the netherworld.  Women step through it with their right leg first, men left leg first, both stating loudly “I’m back”. You certainly don’t want to be left in the netherworld.





P1090845P1090823We continued on to the Great Wall of China and this was fabulous.  There are many places to access the great wall, parts are “wild” or in states of disrepair and others, such as that at Mutianyu which we visited, are well preserved.  The wall is 8,851.8 kilometres long and at Mutianyu is 7–8.5 metres high and the top is 4–5 metres wide.  It is a very imposing structure, set in a beautiful landscape and we visited on a glorious smog free day.



Up by chairlift

To access the wall you can climb the hill on which it is built and then climb the wall, or you can do what we did and take the chairlift.  This sounds like a tacky tourist attraction but in fact it was a very unobtrusive way to access the wall.  And how did we get down?  By toboggan of course, what fun!

Down by toboggan

4 thoughts on “Sliding down the Great Wall of China

  1. Megan 18/05/2015 / 7:51 pm

    Excellent post, Anne and the photos are beautiful. The toboggan looks terrifying – hope it had brakes

    • Anne 18/05/2015 / 8:08 pm

      Good brakes and not really terrifying. Once you’ve ridden through Beijing on a bike I’m it pales in comparison.

  2. Libby Gregory 19/05/2015 / 10:12 am

    Loved the Wall , loved that slide too – this brings back wonderful memories for me!

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