Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Great Wall of China (万里长城)

You can't see it from space. Really. Even the first Chinese astronaut (or rather taikongnaut) Yang Li Wei couldn't make it out when he flew by Beijing. I guess we can't really believe Ripley when he says it is the only man-made structure visible from the Moon.

Regardless, the Great Wall of China really is great in every sense of the word. It is the world's longest man-made structure, stretching from Shanghaiguan in the east to Lop Nur in the west, along an arc in Northwestern China that stretches to over 6,700 km in total.

Also known as "The Long Wall of 10,000 Li (里)" the Great Wall is a series of stone and earthen fortifications that were built, rebuilt, and maintained between the 5th century BC and 16th century AD to protect the northern borders of the Chinese empire during the rule of succesive dynasties.

Our tour group was brought to the most popular of all the Great Wall portions in the Beijing area, The Juyongguan pass. Also known as the Badaling (八達嶺 - hey, PJ also shares the same name with it!) this portion of the Wall is made of stone and bricks from the surrounding hills. Ok, that's about enough of history lessons for today. :) On with the pics!

Out of the 26 people on our tour group, there were only seven or eight of us who were below 40. Needless to say, the elderly ones only managed to make it up to the second or third tower while us young 'uns decided to try to go the distance... not realising that the wall had no end.

It just kept going and going and going....

Plus the steps were rather steep in some parts. I can't remember how many times we had to stop to "take pictures". ;)

At one point along the way, we noticed this: a whole bunch of padlocks attached to a metal railing that was bolted to the wall. A lot of them had red ribbons tied to them as well. But no names, no inscriptions, no messages. Hmmm.....

I have to say, it really was a fine day to be climbing up the Wall. Cool and not too sunny.... Apparently about a million other tourists felt the same way! It was sooo crowded especially along the first couple of stretches.

Ah, made it to the first tower. These watch towers, situated at regular intervals along the Wall were used to store weapons, house troops, and send smoke signals of impending enemy attack, like in that first scene of the Disney cartoon Mulan and also in the Jet Li movie Hero.

This is the first of many 'interesting' signboards on this trip. Ok, apparently a German tourist got struck by lightning a few years back when he was on his cellphone while climbing the Wall. My question is, where the heck did he find the breath to be yakking on his phone??? All of us were panting away by the second tower!

Ok, one tower down, erm... more to go.... This heroic idea of "going all the way" seemed be getting less 'heroic' by the minute......

Part Two on the way...


Shah said...

Wahhh Beijing.. Also on my to-go list. But donno when la..

Friggindildo said...

so, long..so windy...so cooooold!