The Great Wall at Mutianyu, built during the Ming Dynasty around 1400, is not the closest section of the wall to Beijing, but it is not the madhouse found at Badaling and more authentic than other sections that have been rebuilt. The best part was getting there just after it opened, taking the chair lift to the top (saving time from the 1,000 steps to the top) and having the Wall nearly to ourselves.

Not long after descending, thousands of tourists began their daily invasion of the area as well as the dozens of tacky tourist stands and noisy hawkers selling cheap t-shirts, keychains, and meat-on-a-stick you see on every corner of Beijing.

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