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Newer Page 719 of 968 Older Full Trip Report
China Badaling Great Wall Train

13 November 2011

Going to the great wall

This morning I researched how to get to the great wall. All the forums I could find strongly advise a private driver (frequent flyer forums) or an organised tour bus (cheap ass virtualtourist forums).
Neither of these sounded good to me, for every recommendation there were stories of drivers abandoning people in the middle of nowhere, busses that didnt even go to the great wall or went there for 10 minutes and then onto the jade factory etc.
Even taking the public transport bus seems difficult, as you end up lining up in a fake line that turns out to be for a private mini bus where they charge you a fortune to go to the silk market on the way.

I decided to go by train, you would think this would be well organised and easy, but no. First I go to Beijing North station, they dont even let you inside this place.
There are no signs explaining where the trains are going, what ticket to buy, schedules etc, the only info I had to go on was 'S2'.
So I lined up in the line for S2. For an hour. I could see a woman at the counter, manually stamping tickets. A crush of people formed when she came to the window. It seems the well organised buy in advance scenario does not apply for S trains, you line up, get a ticket, and then get on the train.
I had to make a decision, go now, or come back and do this again tomorrow, you cant buy a ticket in advance!
I got to the head of the line and asked what time the next train went, I was informed it left in an hour from now, I was also confused that the cost was less than $1!
I decided to buy a ticket and see what happens next.

Quickly I went to a nearby mall and had lunch, I also had to buy a jacket, I wasnt planning on going today so didnt bring mine, but since the great wall is on a mountain and today is already the coldest day since I arrived, I needed a jacket. Luckily I found a horrible thing to wear in the mall for $9, expensive by Chinese standards.

China-Badaling-Great Wall-Train - To get to Beijing north station, required changing subway 3 times. Out the window of this train is not posters, its a moving LED display that moves at

To get to Beijing north station, required changing subway 3 times. Out the window of this train is not posters, its a moving LED display that moves at the same time as the train carriage. It is pretty amazing.


China-Badaling-Great Wall-Train - This is my train ticket. It has no info about where it goes, what time, seat numbers etc. I later found out that you buy an S2 ticket and its valid fo

This is my train ticket. It has no info about where it goes, what time, seat numbers etc. I later found out that you buy an S2 ticket and its valid for any S2 train to any destination on that line for that day only, the date is stamped on it.


China-Badaling-Great Wall-Train - Heres where I had my lunch, a lot of people talk about the poor food standards in China. I havent really experienced that, most places are like this o

Heres where I had my lunch, a lot of people talk about the poor food standards in China. I havent really experienced that, most places are like this one, where the chefs are on display preparing your food.


China-Badaling-Great Wall-Train - My lunch, some rice noodles with massive amounts of delicious MSG.

My lunch, some rice noodles with massive amounts of delicious MSG.


China-Badaling-Great Wall-Train - Back to the station after buying my jacket and some lunch, and some water and snacks as the incorrect internet warns about lack of water and food at t

Back to the station after buying my jacket and some lunch, and some water and snacks as the incorrect internet warns about lack of water and food at the great wall!
I am now allowed in the station, to be greeted by a big line for S2. I had to wait another hour in line.


China-Badaling-Great Wall-Train - Once on the platform, people sprinted to the train, to get a seat, they neednt have bothered as there were actually spare seats after all that.

Once on the platform, people sprinted to the train, to get a seat, they neednt have bothered as there were actually spare seats after all that.


China-Badaling-Great Wall-Train - Heres what the seats look like, I sat down next to a window, and soon after a young girl in a very short skirt carrying a big handbag comes and asks m

Heres what the seats look like, I sat down next to a window, and soon after a young girl in a very short skirt carrying a big handbag comes and asks me if the seat next to me is taken.
She spoke great English, and told me she was a student and was very surprised to find out that I was an Australian in China for a holiday, because surely if you live in Australia you would never want to leave.
Of course, she then starts with the 'where are you staying', 'do you want me to show you around?', 'do you need a place to spend the night?', 'do you want a girlfriend?' routine.

I knew it was coming, but she maintained her student routine for a good 30 minutes before she thought she had won me over. I told her I needed to go to the bathroom, which I did, and kept walking to the other end of the train.


China-Badaling-Great Wall-Train - Whilst being propositioned, the view out the window was great.

Whilst being propositioned, the view out the window was great.


China-Badaling-Great Wall-Train - The train went past another section of what looked like restored great wall, but the train didnt stop here, I cant find it on a map either. One intere

The train went past another section of what looked like restored great wall, but the train didnt stop here, I cant find it on a map either.
One interesting thing the train did, when getting near the end it was in deep ravines and went very slowly. Instead of a tight turn, at one point it went into a dead end, a switch was thrown, and the train then went backwards the rest of the way. A clever way of avoiding building a big curve.


China-Badaling-Great Wall-Train - Once off the train, theres quite a nice village. Yes it has a subway and a KFC and some convenience stores, but it wasnt over done, there was a lack o

Once off the train, theres quite a nice village. Yes it has a subway and a KFC and some convenience stores, but it wasnt over done, there was a lack of scammers lining the streets waving flyers.


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