Leaving the smog of Beijing behind, we ascended 2,077 steps to reach the pinnacle of The Great Wall. The Mongolian warriors were waiting for us when we reached the top. Wanting to fight with honor, the Mongol tossed me a battle blade, and the fighting commenced. He was no match for me, and he cowardly retreated once I disarmed him.
That’s the caption for the above photo, at any rate. I paid him five yuan (50 cents USD at the time) to pose with me. We really did climb 2,077 steps, though! That’s more steps than in the Empire State Building! (which is 102 floors with 1,860 steps). It was worth the pain to be rewarded with the hilly views of the sinuous Great Wall and spattering of small villages on both sides.
S’cuse the blurry photos. These were the good ole days of film photography!! Since I dug out these old prints but couldn’t find the negatives, I took photos of these photos to capture them in digital form.
The Great Wall, the Ultimate Defense
Rising out of the mist like a great grey serpent, The Great Wall snakes across China’s verdant hills, separating it from Mongolia. The walls were resurrected to protect the Chinese Empire against intrusions by various military incursions or nomadic groups of warlike peoples or forces.
Under Qin Shi Huang in 220 B.C, the wall, originally built as a series of several smaller fortifications, eventually joined together to form a united defense system against invasions from the north. Construction continued through the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), and it became the world’s largest military structure. Because of it’s historic, strategic and architectural significance, it was awarded world heritage status and became what is today’s UNESCO World Heritage Site #438.
You can actually see this massive structure from outer space!
China was one of ten stops on our Semester at Sea journey in 1999. I was inspired to share some of these Great Wall photos because my sister will be heading to China in about a week.
I have written about Beijing not being a very romantic place to visit, but there are just some things in this world that one must see. The Great Wall is one of them.
Lost in Translation
“Don’t be open ahead no going.” Translation… no trespassing??
“Smoking and letting fire in the open air is forbidden” Translation…. no smoking???
As if The Wall wasn’t spectacular enough, the alpine slide down the mountain was the icing on the cake! You board a little one-person sled with a pull-lever break and speed down the shoot. Exhilarating yet a bit scary, I made sure to hit the breaks on sharp turns.
That is… until this adrenaline junkie rammed me from behind. From the corner of my eye, I saw the impatient Chinese man, who kept yelling “Go! Go! No stop! No stop!” as he bumped up against my sled. I squealed, laughed (and might have said a curse word or two) and increased my speed. I wonder if this is still a method of departure from The Wall. Does anyone know?