One of the cats at The Great Wall Box House.
How I landed to Gubeikou
I never planned to visit Gubeikou and climb the wild great wall. It just happened.
I was browsing Hostelworld.com to find a room in Beijing and I noticed this one:
The Great Wall Box House: 97% overall rating.
I was curious to know why this hostel got such a good rate. Then I clicked on the link and discovered that the hostel was not in Beijing but in Gubeikou, 120 Km away, where the great wall section of Wo Hu Shan (Mountain of the Crouching Tiger) meets the section of Pan Long Shan (Mountain of the Curling Dragon).
I love the great wall and I couldn’t resist to such a call, so I booked a room.
Right after I booked I received an email from Joe, the owner, explaining in great detail how to reach the hostel, till which price I could bargain if I decide to arrive by “private taxi” and so on. There where also a couple of pictures so it was impossible to get lost.
And I did get lost anyway…
The great wall section at The Great Wall Box House.
At the hostel
But I was already in Gubeikou and as soon as I called Joe, the girl that works at the hostel came to rescue me.
Thank you Sophie!
Beside the backpackers, the The Great Wall Box House hosts about ten cats. I tell myself this must be the reason of the love at first sight between me (I grew up among an army of lazy cats and a spoiled German shepard called Apo, as the leader of the PKK) and the hostel.
Since the price was more or less the same (200 kuai per night instead of 180) I booked a single room, which turned out to be much more spartan than the dorms, but who cares?
First, I’m here in backpack mood. Second, the wall of my room is actually a small section of the Great Wall! I don’t think you can find it on many other hostels.
When I arrive at the hostel it’s two p.m. and I’m starving so I order a plate of rice and Gong Bao Ji Ding (chicken with peanuts, carrots and cucumbers), which not only looks great on the photo, but was also really tasty or, how Chinese people like to see, delicious.
When I come back from my exploration there are only other two guests (it’s Thursday, there are much more people during the weekend), an American girl and an Australian guy. We have dinner with Joe, Sophie and the cook. The food is plentiful and, most important, fresh!
But the best thing is probably the homemade alcohol Joe brings after dinner, a bit strong though (about 70% alcohol by volume). Joe, how do you call it in Mandarin?
Some remarks about The Great Wall Box House
- Even if my room didn’t have ensuite bathroom, the common restrooms were always very clean. Don’t worry, If you happen to be one of those unlucky girls with a spoiled boyfriend you can always get a double room with private bathroom ; )
- The hostel has a good wireless internet connection (not so common in China) and even a pc you can use to check your emails in the case you didn’t bring your laptop.
- Both Joe and Sophie speak fluent English so communication is not an issue.
- The hostel is five minutes walking by the Pan Long Shan great wall section and about twenty minutes walking from the Wo Hu Shan great wall section.
- If you come during the weekdays there is very few people and you will probably be alone climbing the wall, which feels great.
- Gubeikou is on the middle of the mountains, so be aware it will be quite colder than Beijing.
Sophie plays with a cat.
Because of its small size and the fact that Joe and Sophie are so friendly, at The Great Wall Box House you will feel like at home (I know this is a cliché but I want to write it anyway). Overall it was a great experience that I recommend to anyone interested on visiting the wild great wall. My only regret was that, because of the bad weather, I didn’t visit the Crouching Tiger section of the wall.
Joe, the owner of the hostel.
To know more about Gubeikou’s great wall section read Gubeikou: hiking on the wild great wall.