The Great Wall

Beijing Travel Blog

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How to drive and pass cars in China.
Today we went to go visit the Great Wall at Simatai, which involved a 3 hour journey along crazy two-lane highways. I know that I've already spoken at length about cars and traffic in Beijing, but the drive to Simatai was even more spectacularly eye-opening and hair-raising. As mentioned before, most of the drive was along a 2-lane highway, with one lane of traffic going in each direction. The highway was filled with giant transport trucks and pickups grossly overloaded with boxes, cattle, construction supplies or some combination of all three. When I say grossly overloaded I don't mean to say that there were a few extra boxes thrown in the back of a truck.
Tower 16 in the distance.
I mean that you would often see small pickup trucks with 20 feet high stacks of boxes held together with worn rope, chugging along at agonizing paces and periodically emitting clouds of thick black smoke from the exhausts.

Given the choice between being stuck behind one of these overloaded, slow trucks or risking a head-on collision by attemping to pass it in the opposite lane along a blind curve, drivers invariably chose the latter. At one point, we passed a car that was simultaneously attempting to pass another car, briefly turning the two-lane highway into a three-lane one way street, in addition to causing my life to flash before my eyes. Amazingly, we only saw one accident during the entire trip; A small car, attempting to pass a larger truck, hit the corner of the truck and spun screechingly out of control, doing a neat 180 before coming to a silent rest on the side of the street. I was watching the whole affair unfold from the opposing lane of traffic and I can still see the driver's horrified expression as, back rigid and stiff arms extended, he unsuccessfully attempted to steer the car back into control.


After this grim ordeal, it was good to finally arrive at Simatai, one of the best-preserved, less-touristed, and most spectacular sections of the Great Wall in the Beijing area. We rode a ski-lift type thing up the hill and hiked the remaining distance up a crumbly path with steep, rocky steps. Rather than go on at length about how spectacular the scenery is, I will just put up some photos :)

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How to drive and pass cars in Chi…
Tower 16 in the distance.
Tower 16 in the distance.
The Great Wall.
The Great Wall.
View from tower window. Hang-glide…
View from tower window. Hang-glid…
Its big.
It's big.
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photo by: Deats