Move along folks, nothing to see here. Just a construction of over 13,000 miles in length built over a period of several hundred years under many different leaders, a structure that is purportedly visible from space and one that attracts millions of tourists every year.
For those staying in Beijing, a lot of people head for Mutianyu, visit the brand new visitor centre, take the cable car to the top, walk about a bit and then cable car back down. That wasn’t at all what I wanted to do, so I arranged with a company to pick me up and take me to Jiankou. From here I’d climb up for an hour before getting onto an unrestored section, I’d walk for a couple of hours on the old bit, before arriving at the 10km stretch recently restored by the Chinese government and head to Mutianyu, a climb down a couple of thousand steps and bingo, into the car and back to Beijing.
The first hour was indeed steep, when they told me I would be climbing up for an hour, they weren’t wrong. It was up, up and up followed by some up. Finally I arrived on the top. The views were non existent, thick fog shrouded everything. Probably my only trip to China and the Great Wall and I couldn’t see more than five yards in front of my face.
However, I could see the rough old steps I was walking on:
The apricots that were a staple diet of the Chinese army back in the day:
Forts, of which there are many along the Wall. As an ex soldier I can just imagine how things would have been back in the day when the wall was an active service site, freezing in the winter, roasting in summer, difficult to get provisions to and the constant threat of attack from the Mongol hordes.
Flowers growing willy nilly, as nature slowly takes back what is rightfully hers:
As the day wore on the sun came out and burnt off a lot of the fog, meaning the views improved and forts and wall just seemed to go on and on and on …
Looking back up the hill I could get a very slight understanding of the enormity of the task. I had to climb up for an hour to get onto the Wall. Just me, in my own time, with a bottle of water. How all of the building materials were dragged up back in the day is difficult to comprehend.
The Great Wall of China is exactly what it says it is. It truly is a spectacular piece of engineering, eroded completely in places, visible only with small lumps of brick in others, but the restored piece, showing what it would have been like during the time when invasion was a real threat, gave a real insight into living conditions back then. There are myriad stories about the Wall, but seeing it with my own eyes was better than hearing them all from someone who’d been there.
The letter G was bought to you by: http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/