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When China’s great wall is too small for the crowds


The Golden week holidays in China are often marked by Chinese tourist from small cities swarming in to visit the several famous tourist attractions in major cities of China to celebrate their national holiday. One such spot is the Great Wall of China. At any normal time of the year the Great Wall is one heck of a trip. The visitors are mesmerized by the sheer Greatness of the Wall, its many cool watchtowers that defy the heat of the sun and the several beautiful views that the Great Wall overlooks. Like one mighty construction, the Great Wall stretches miles and miles into the mountains; as far as the eye can see. The Great Wall stands in its entire splendor, reminiscent of the echelons of war and peace it has borne, of the trade that has been carried over it and of the several dynasties that ruled over it. It even sports wounds in the form of bullet holes of thousands of battles that have been fought over it. In the Great Wall’s feet lie remains of workers who died while constructing it and were buried there only. The visitors cannot help but be awed by 3000 years of history that can be felt in the strong stone bricks of the Great Wall; as if reverberating through them. According to Chinese folklore the Great Wall is a dragon winding over the mountains. When you look at pictures you can see that it indeed resembles a dragon. The Great Wall is truly a mighty wonder of the world. Among the popular spots on the Wall include Badaling-the busiest, Mutianyu- the most beautiful, providing scenic view of the greenery covered hills around the Wall, Simatai- ideal for hiking and HuanghuaCheng or Jiankou- towards the wild, barren side and suitable for the more adventurous kind. All these popular spots are located around Beijing. Chairlifts are available at Badaling and Mutianyu, making these 2 spots the most popular in any tourist season. For the Great Wall Chairman Mao Zedong once said “He who has not climbed the Great Wall is not a true man” Apparently, the Chinese population have taken Mao Zedong’s words to heart. The Great wall stretches more than 5000 miles across Northern China; it is difficult to fathom if the Wall could ever possibly get a traffic jam; let alone a human traffic jam! This year the number of tourists to the Great Wall during the Golden week broke all records. Tourists faced problems such as 2-3 hours long wait to ride up the chairlift and even longer waiting queues to get down. Atop the Wall it got so crowded that all one could see was a sea of human heads. The shuttle bus system also got overwhelmed. With every passing year China is facing an increasing difficulty managing its huge tourists’ influx. China shows the world some of the world’s worst traffic jams; often lasting days. This year China’s railways already had a record 10.33 million passengers on October 1, the first day of the Golden Week holiday.   The photograph above (courtesy of www.ChinaPictorial.com.cn) gives a mindboggling idea of the mass congestion that can undermine the sheer Greatness of the Great Wall. Doesn’t seem like a “fun” trip, does it now? For the wiser tourist, Chinese or foreigner, the major Chinese holidays (including Chinese New Year and Golden Week) are just the perfect times to relax at home and catch up on a missed reading or an interesting movie. (National holiday is celebrated from 1st October to 7th October and Chinese new year from 1st February to 7th February.)

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