There is an old saying in China “you are not a man until you have been to the Great Wall!” With that kind of tourism mantra, it’s no wonder The Wall has a sort of ‘been there, done that, got the T-Shirt’ kind of feel to it.
Most people see the wall at Badaling, an extremely busy section about 70kms from the heart of Beijing. To view one of the greatest engineering achievements in Chinese history here is almost like doing a whistle stop tour of China – you can say you’ve been...but have you really been?
China’s history is fascinating; so rich and diverse, it makes you feel teeny tiny just thinking about it. But what is truly amazing is that western tourists have only been allowed to visit since the late 1970s.
In true adventurous spirit, Peregrine started sending people to China in the late 1980’s a mere 10 years after the country was opened up. From the start, Peregrine’s aim was to show China beyond the party line.
Our first lot of trips were cycling trips (aptly named “History in cycles”, puns just stand the test of time don’t they!). What better way to see this emerging nation than they way locals do – by pushie! The 21 day trip took you through the heart of the country, cycling through teeny villages, meeting locals and eating traditional food.
Our focus was on discovering the essence of China, showing people this ‘new’ country and exploring the world’s undiscovered nooks and crannies.
So the question must be asked – how do you discover the unknown in China today? It’s the third most visited country in the world! Well, the answer is to go beyond Badaling, the Warriors and the dumplings. The solution is to go back in time and spend eight days walking along five remote, seldom-visited sections of the Great Wall, staying in local villages & experiencing rural life.
Today’s trip is Walking the Great Wall. Why is it so amazing, I hear you ask? Because as with most Peregrine trips, this one explores the untrodden tourist path, places that are still ‘untouched’ by mass tourism – even in the world’s most populated country.
This trip takes you back to what those first trips into China would have been like as they uncovered this new and emerging country. Today you get to walk around the real China, to have an experience beyond the tourist throngs and get in touch with locals who aren’t just trying to sell you the t-shirt!
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