The Great Wall of China

Location: The sections of the Great Wall closest to Beijing are JuYongGuan and BaDaLing. We visited JuYongGuan which has recently been restored and is quieter than the Badaling section (just a short distance further north). I was initially grateful for having come to this part of the wall however it soon dawned on me that all vestiges of antiquity had been removed by the recent 'restoration'. Furthermore the towers had been spoilt by stallholders hanging their goods from the walls. The whole section had been spoilt by commerce and the overweight tourists searching for souvenir fridge magnets and t-shirts. At least by arriving early (9:00am) we had managed to beat the worst of the crowds. But photographically this is NOT one of the great wonders of the world. From the map below you will see that I chose to explore the western section (on the advice of our guide!) but once up there it became clear that the eastern section is far superior.

The much quiter and less commerial Eastern section
But if at all possible take the expressway further north to the much more extensive section at Badaling or The Huanghua Cheng section that is far less developed.

The more extensive Badaling section in the distance.
We had 2 1/2 hours to climb to the highest point and return to the coach. I wasn't quite prepared for just how steep the climb was - it's no exaggeration to say that some sections were close to vertical!

 It took me 50 mins to get to the top- where the wall ended abruptly, with no evidence of it ever going beyond that point. (Obviously a spur off the main wall)? It then took 30 mins to descend and another 15 mins to barge my way through the main tourist shopping area, cross the bridge over the expressway and start the climb up the opposite (eastern) side of this section of the wall.

Keeping an eye on the clock I didn't get very far before I had to turn back for the coach.

Post Capture: In Nikon Capture NX2
For all photos - I switched to Picture Control (Landscape) and re-set sharpening and brightness to 8 and -1 resp. Then apart from minor tweeks to curves and straightening and cropping I made no other adjustments. For once exposure was spot on. 

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