When I arrived at the Beijing railway station after my 24 hour trip from Hong Kong I ran into colleagues from university – one of which lives in Beijing. In the few minutes we had waiting to get through immigration we planned to meet up two days after to make the trip up to the Great Wall. The big advantage of having a Beijing resident as a friend, is that you can take the car to the Wall, which simplifies everything and makes it more fun as well.
We went to Badaling, which is the nearest part of the Great Wall to Beijing. Sadly, also the most touristy. Not only are there a lot of people, but you also get a renovated wall instead of the nice crumbling one, and there are giant atrocities of light shows and stages. I’m pretty sure they are currently building an ice skating park and slides around the wall. Perverse if you ask me.
Winter has its merits though, as there were a lot less people than usual (still too many) and most of them only went along the north part. The south part was pretty much empty. Going back and forth both parts, including taking pictures and chatting took us about three hours after which we fell exhausted into the car. Most of us slept on the way back.
In the evening my hostel had a free dumpling party. Everybody got to make and later eat dumplings. Getting the right riffling on the edges is not the easiest of things. Very tasty!