Here are some suggestions to make the experience as memorable and positive as possible.
Being observative is the key to enjoying your Great Wall walk. For most people, this environment differs from what they are used to in so many ways and to such a great degree that there can be a feeling of sensory overload, of having so much to take in that it's almost too much to process. Some people make the mistake of paying too much attention to making progress along their route and too little attention to actual experience. You will know if this happened to you after you return from the Great Wall if you can't vividly recall many of the details, but then it will be too late. So while you are on the Great Wall, make a conscious effort to absorb the sights and sounds of your adventure. Savor your time on the Great Wall and make a conscious effort to notice and remember the experience.
Pay attention to the big picture and to the small details. Scan the horizon from high points and take a mental picture of the overall environment. Notice perspectives, shapes, and colors. Also be watchful for the many aspects of the Great Wall itself. The construction and design features should be noticed, understood, and appreciated. The builders of the Great Wall put a lot of effort into its design and construction and you will get much benefit from observing and appreciating these features, from large-scale considerations like the routing of the Great Wall and the positioning of towers for the best military advantage, to the details like the placement of shooting holes and design of drainage mechanisms.
Learn to absorb as much as possible and to take time to let it sink into your thoughts. Externalize. Pay less attention to yourself and more attention to your surroundings. Your enjoyment is bound to be increased and your knowledge is sure to be enriched. This is an approach that you can apply to many life experiences, and walking the Great Wall is an excellent place to develop the habit.
One of the most enjoyable, and yet often overlooked, aspects of a walk on the Great Wall is the opportunity to observe nature in a way that is not often available to most people.
The fact that the Great Wall is built in remote and often mountainous regions makes it an excellent place to enjoy nature's beauty and wonders. In addition to the generally spectacular scenery, the plant and animal life seen on a smaller scale are a treat for those who appreciate nature. Try to take the time to notice the wildlife both on and around the Great Wall. You'll see plant life from large trees to tiny flowers that you probably don't see in your home country. You'll see animals from birds to butterflies to insects that you don't normally see either. Noticing all of this will add yet another memorable dimension to what's already an unforgettable experience.
Chinese Giant Millipede
The Yanshan Mountains, the mountains passing to the north of Beijing and through which the Great Wall runs, are home to a great variety of birds.
Bird watchers from all over the world come to this area to pursue their interest. From large birds of prey to small hummingbirds, the myriad species of birds in northern China will provide endless entertainment as well as photography opportunities. Remember to periodically watch the skies and the trees while you're walking the Great Wall. You don't want to miss something that others will travel very far in order to see.
China, to its credit, is a country noted for its appreciation and enjoyment of flowers. Just spend a little bit of time in any Chinese city and this will become apparent; both public and private areas are frequently adorned with impressive displays of flowers. Visiting China gives one the opportunity to share this passion.
The diversity and richness of plant life along the Great Wall includes a fantastic array of flowers. The variety of sizes, shapes, and colors of flowers is enough to attract your attention even from something as impressive and imposing as the Great Wall. Many people are very knowledgeable about flowers and spend a lot of time in this area researching and photographing flowers; others simply look and enjoy. Whatever your level of interest and learning, make sure you take the time to look at – and smell &ndash the flowers along the Great Wall.