Traveling in China: Walking the Great Wall

Today we walked the Great Wall. We drove three hours outside Beijing not only so we could avoid the crush of tourists, also because this portion of the wall, built ABOUT 1330 AD is original. As we drove, we left the city which was smoggy today and entered a mountainous area. These mountains were more like our own than the ones near the panda base. These were craggy, not as vertical, and were covered with evergreens rather than the thin wavy bamboo and feathery firs in Befengshia.

The bus parked at the base of the mountain where our entrance to the wall would be.  We walked a way to get to the gondola that would take us up the mountain, These were two seaters  and like a ski gondola, we hopped in them as they moved past us. At the top we hopped of and began our ascent to the tower nearest us. These are place every 50 meters along the wall.

We followed  a dry clay and rocky clay path about 1 foot wide up the side of the mountain till we arrive at the seeps leading to the tower. The steps were made of slate and stone. They were slippery and jagged, about 6 inches deep which meant my foot didn't always fit and I would have to ascend sideways,, clutching the stone wall  along the side wall. Some of the steps were only an inch high, others were a foot. It was treacherous but well worth it as we reached the top.

We worked our way around the tower and came out on the wall. What a fantastic sight. At the top of this mountain range, the wall stretched out before us, curving with the landscape in a serpentine pattern, rising and falling with the geography, We began to follow the tiled path, moving up and down, sometimes on a sloping floor, sometimes on steps that at times seemed to be vertical. At the second tower I found a ledge and some shade and settled down to munch on my picnic lunch, looking out over the mountains cut by the brown serpentine path of the wall.

What a fantastic sight

More later when I get back from dinner..

 

 

 

Filed under: China, Travel

Tags: Great Wall

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    Carolyn Boiarsky

    " I am an American," but not "Chicago born" like Augie March. Only Chicago aged. I'd like to think that if Henry Louis Gates were to investigate my geneology, he would discover in my past three women who traveled around the globe, chronicling their adventures. Sarah Kemble Knight traveled 112 miles by carriage from Boston to New York in 1704, a journey most women did not embark on alone (and men did so only with some trepidation). In fact, women were only just beginning to exercise their independence in the 1920's when Emily Kimbrough took off with her friend, Cornelia Otis Skinner, to explore Europe. But it is Auntie Mame, transforming herself from a New Yorker to the wife of an Austrian Baron and climbing the Matterhorn, whose mantra I have adopted. "LIFE IS A BANQUET...LIVE!" I began travelling in the 1960's when I traveled around western Europe between graduating from the Univiersity of Pennsylvania and my first job as a statehouse correspondent for UPI (United Press International) in Charleston, West Virginia, which was about as foreign a place as Europe was to someone who grew up in the environs of Philadelphia. Since then, I've also travelled to Kaunas, Lithuania, to teach at Vytautus Magnus University and to Sheffield, England, to present a paper at an engineering conference. I've been to the Alps and seen Auntie Mame's Matterhorn while climbing, by a series of cable cars rather than by foot, toward the peak of Mont Blanc. For the past 10 years my husband and I have been traveling to unique places: a sheep farm during lambing season in England's Lake Country, a hotel on one of the Barromeo Islands in the middle of Lake Maggiore in Northern Italy, and a cottage in Dun Quin on the Dingle Peninsula which the Irish claim is the last parish before Boston. Between excursions, I'm a professor in the Department of English at Purdue University Calumet in Hammond, Indiana,. My husband passed away recently and, Auntie Mame-style, I am in the process of transforming myself. Last year I joined a tour to Central Asia. This year I'm going to China to work with the pandas. A new adventure. Another banquet.

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