Visiting the Great Wall of China
One of the first things other executives told me when I started traveling internationally for work was to make time each day for something non-work related. Even if it was just going out for street noodles in Tokyo at 11 pm or going for a run along the water in Sidney on a 24-hour trip, the importance of making room for downtime on the road was emphasized repeatedly.
Clearly, this trip I took to the Great Wall of China on a Saturday when I was in Beijing for work is more elaborate than a quick run or noodles, but so totally worth making the time for. This was my fourth trip to Beijing and I’d never really done tourist activities. The Great Wall is breathtaking. The sheer manpower behind making such a structure really struck me being there. The mountains are incredibly jagged!
What I wore: a Tory Burch tunic (mentioned here as a top travel essential) seemed like the appropriate balance of comfort and classic elegance for the special event. It allowed me to hike to the top of the wall in comfort (and it was a short but intense hike!).
1. Plan ahead – book a private tour if possible. As you might imagine, there are busloads of tourists that flock to the Wall. It’s well worth it to plan ahead and take a private car/guide. I worked through my hotel concierge to book a car with a special entry permit to drop us very near the entrance to the Wall – otherwise there is a shuttle that can take you from general parking spots to the ticketing booth.
2. Get there early – we arrived on the slightly early side, around 9:00, but it would have been even better to have gotten there around 8:00 am as the Wall would have been even more enjoyable without so many people. It’s about an hour drive from Beijing to where we went on the Wall, which was not the most renovated section. We booked lunch at a small place called the Schoolhouse Canteen – it was quite nice and we were certainly hungry after hiking around!
3. Take the toboggan down the hill – while I loved the workout climbing the stairs to get up, taking the toboggan down was so totally fun. It’s a track that winds all the way down and you are on your own to control the speed – a bit sketchy seeming but worked out beautifully for me!
Photos thanks to my my wonderful companion Ophelia Ma.