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Clinging to a Cliff Under the Great Wall

After the debacle of the Chinese camping ground that really wasn’t, we had three major problems:

1. No water left and nowhere to fill up

2. Nearly two weeks’ worth of dirty washing – for four people, that’s a lot of unclean clothes

3. The area surrounding the campsite included a magnificent stretch of the Great Wall (known as Huangyaguan – yellow cliff mountain pass), a river, some caves, and extraordinary beauty. We weren’t ready to leave and had planned on staying several days.

I can’t say just how helpful Mr Googlemaps has been on this trip, and that’s how we found the Dongshan (East Mountain) Hotel, perched high up on a precipitously steep hillside underneath the Great Wall itself.

The winding switchback road all the way to the top proved a huge effort for the van, but apparently practically none for the punchy little two-stroke engines of the trayback tricycles laden with peaches overtaking us on the steeper sections. Peach and apricot trees heavy with fruit seemed to be the only thing holding the mountain together, terraced in climbing rows.
The Dongshan Hotel, the van, and yes, our washing
The Hotel is located through the entrance gates to this section of the Great Wall, so if you haven’t already purchased a ticket you’ll need to buy one in order to stay there.

Calling the Dongshan a hotel may have stretched the truth slightly – the hotel reception, in a temporary tin shed in the car park, apparently also serves as the local police station. Inside, two policemen sitting on a vinyl sofa and smoking heavily, are interrogating a skinny male suspect about a robbery of something yellow. A car? A handbag? A pair of sneakers? Through the thick local dialect it’s about all I can make out. Still, he doesn’t look that worried, leaning back languidly on the opposite sofa and tapping the ash from his cigarette into a plastic ashtray. It’s all very Columbo, circa 1974.

The check in procedure involves a lot of carbon paper and forms in triplicate (“Make sure you use the correct form for foreign guests!” barks one of the police officers to the receptionist, before he goes straight back into questioning) and then we were shown to our rooms.

The long low building of the hotel is guarded by a pair of terracotta warriors with swords, just to ward off…something or other. The eaves are painted with scenes of the mountains and the wall, in local traditional style and through the flycreen curtained front door are eight rooms in all, identically furnished with three closely spaced single beds, a  television, a kettle, and a tiled bathroom with cold running water and a tank you can plug in to heat water. If you touch the edge of the tank by mistake it gives you a small electric shock, and this initially worried me quite a deal, but as long as you touch only the outlet hose of the tank you’re fine. And we all really, really wanted hot showers.
The real treat of the Dongshan is the location, and the ability to walk along the wall at any time during your stay – dawn, dusk or midnight if the moon is full and the mood takes you.

Huangyaguan is a stunningly beautiful section of the Great Wall with a history of more than 1400 years – the wall unscrolls down mountain cliffs on both sides of a deep river chasm, meeting in the middle over a bridge like ‘two dragons drinking from a stream’. It’s unforgettable in scale and magnificence and I hope you can get there to see it someday. 

黄崖关
在野外露营时,有时你需要在某地作个短暂的停留,洗洗刷刷,补充电力,这样才能下载照片,发邮件,以及处理所有你在路上所不能做的事情。

我们在蓟县下营镇山野运动基地露营地待了一个晚上之后,还不准备离开这个被陡峭的山峰环绕的美丽乡村,不准备离开在日出和日落时分会散发出绚丽玫红色泽的层层叠叠的花岗岩,不准备离开黄崖关长城——不想离开所有这些我们期待去探索的地方。

由于道路陡峭狭窄且山间风大,此处尚无合适的露营地,也无处停放一辆庞大的房车!同时也无处装满我们的水箱,所以我们决定在山上正处于长城保护圈内的东山旅馆借宿两晚。

旅馆设施简单,提供干净的床单和自来水,这些正是我们所需要的!旅馆真正的亮点是它的地址,你可以在停留于此的任何时间漫步于长城之上——黎明,黄昏或是满月时的半夜。

黄崖关拥有1400多年的历史,是极为壮丽的一段长城,城墙沿山蜿蜒于一道河流的两边,立于其间的桥上望去,犹如两条在河边饮水的巨龙。如此景象令人难以忘怀!

明天我们将一路往东向海岸和大海进发——也许在那里我们也能看到长城。
The newly restored section of the wall meets the ‘old wall’ made from the local gold-coloured granite high up on the western wall.

Huangyaguan (Yellow Cliff Mountain Pass) Great Wall
Northern Tianjin Province
The Wall is accessible in two sections, the popular and easy to get to Western Wall where tour buses arrive from Beijing or Tianjin (both around three hours), and the less accessible but equally stunning Eastern Wall which you can get to via minivan, horseback or three-wheel tricycle, all available in the Western Wall carpark.
Adults 65 yuan
Children 35 yuan
Children under 1.2m free
Parking 10 yuan
Dongshan Hotel

Co-ordinates Lat 40.245314°  Long 117.454871°
All rooms are triples with their own bathroom but rates depend on the number of occupants. Meals not included.
Singles 100yuan/night
Doubles 200yuan/night
Triples 300yuan/night
Discounts available.
There is no food available at the top of the mountain but the Dongshan is happy to open their restaurant – overlooking a lotus pond – for guests. Dinner for four people including a variety of local dishes and soup around 100 yuan in total.