Having once lived in China for 11 years, I still travel there frequently. This post is from my recent trip to China and its southern provinces in May 2012. View more stories and photos from that trip and other China trips here.
I think it's been 8 times - 8 times that I have been to the Great Wall. For my 8th time, I didn't need any of the fancy tourist stuff - no guided tours, no chairlifts, no souvenirs. I wanted to hike as much of the Great Wall as I could, before the waves of tourists arrived. Even though my plan called for waking up at 6am, it was my favourite visit to the Great Wall. The silence in the mountains and the cool breeze of the early morning was perfect for reflecting on the physical sacrifice that went into constructing this magnificent World Wonder.
My only regret was not able to camp there overnight and to catch the sunrise in the morning. Looks like that's a reason for me to return some day soon.