If you happen to travel around the globe to China there is one place that Chairman Mao has decreed necessary for any man to visit to truly become a man. The Great Wall of China. Even though his quote may seem sexist in this day and age the fact is that any man or woman that has not been to the great wall and climbed its historic stones may well be denying themselves one of the greatest human achievements in history.
Hundreds of villages along the walls 9,000 kilometer length donated food and men from every family to help create this standing monument to a common security, which would seem unlikely to happen in our own time. After completion some villages would allow foreign troops to trespass for a fee but for the most part individual villages diligently manned their tower sections and lit fires to warn others of incoming threats. Historical documentation is infinite on the how, when, and why the Great Wall was built but we are here to discuss the where. As in where to stay on your trip.
The brickyard at Mutianyu was once a tile factory that was repurposed by expats who had acquired a peasant house nearby nearly two decades ago. Jim Spear and Lian Tang moved to the area full time in 2005 and were inspired by the mayor to lease the abandoned school grounds where they created a restaurant and art glass studio. They now welcome people from over 100 countries to dine, climb and recline in the pristine hills at the foot of the great wall without interruptions from televisions or telephones. Don’t worry, they do have wifi so you may boast of your accomplishments after your trek.
The rooms in the main building are spacious and open. Large windows and skylights reveal the wall looming from overhead and the outside private patios let you enjoy the sights as the sun warms your skin. The large houses available are positioned throughout the township and also offer outstanding views as well as private settings all within walking distance of the great wall. There is a ticket office at the entrance to Mutianyu for your excursions, which is a hike, but the prices are reasonable and a shuttle is on call from the lobby for a large part of the day.
Guided tours range from the extreme climb to a lazy gondola ride to the top. There is also an exciting toboggan slide to bring you back down. The slide price is about $15 and going as fast as possible it will still take a little over three minutes to get down. (The guys yelling are cheering you on, I swear!)
The rough terrain of the wild side of the wall is accessible from the Brickyard grounds but is discouraged without the aid of a guide. The guides are knowledgeable, speak English well and provide necessities for your climb such as water, fruits, and snacks. They have much experience in climbing the wall so it is best to follow their advice and despite what many visitors claim, they do appreciate tips!
Check out the Brickyard for yourself here.