Saturday, October 02, 2010

Beijing, part 14: The Great Wall

The Great Wall of China is certainly an impressive feat of engineering. How did they build it? The same way they build everything in China -- manpower!

v45 - Mark on the Great Wall - Ch

Silver snake of stone slithering over hazy hills to the horizon.

v50 - Over to Sīmǎtái West Great Wall

Chunyu and his extended family decided not to venture far from our arrival point at the wall, but Chunlin was willing to join me hiking up the ridge.

v55 - Chunlin at Tower Ten

Up and over and along a ridgeline of cliffs. From what I can tell on the map, this ridge (and thus the wall) is the borderline between the municipality of Beijing and the province of Hebei. Doesn't quite feel like Beijing, does it?

v61 - From Tower Eleven down the Ridge

The sections with stairs seem newer -- they were probably rebuilt for tourists. The higher sections don't have steps, but just a steep (and slippery) ramp. A very steep ramp.

v56 - Up to Sīmǎtái Tower Eleven

Most parapet/guardrails are gone. Don't get too close to the edge!

v65 - Sīmǎtái East Tower Eleven

Five watchtowers later, there wasn't much wall left. For some stretches, there's just 18" of brick wall each side of six feet of bare rock.

v66 - Chunlin Climbing Where the Wall Used to Be

v74 - Sīmǎtái East Ridge

A gate. Too steep and dangerous to proceed further. The sign proclaims a 200-yuan fine ($30), but only a 100-yuan bribe to the guards is needed if you really want to keep going.

I trusted the gate-maker's judgment and stopped there. I pulled out my zoom lens, however, and pointed it further up the ridge.

v75 - The Littlest Great Wall
Not much of a wall up there, is it?

After a short while, we turned our toes back down the hill. Our jiaren (family) was waiting.

v78 - Past the Twelve

v82 - Down to Sīmǎtái East Tower Six

Hawkers waited for us back at the wall access point. One lady wanted to sell me a book about the wall. I said no (bu yao), repeatedly. She chased me to the next tower and back again. Then, she tried tshirts. XL? "Tai da le." (Too big.) M? "Tai xiao le." (Too small.) L? "Tai hei le." (Too black -- I prefered the gray of the other two.) We got the black large shirt anyway ... eventually. 50, 10, 40, 10, 40, 15, 40, 45 whoops 15, 30, 20, 25, 20 yuan -- mai le (bought). Chunlin took over for me at the end of that exchange. I actually walked away, down the trail to the tram. But now I'm the proud owner of an "I climbed the Great Wall!" tshirt which says Simatai (the name of this stretch) on the back (in Chinese).

v84 - Flowers by the Great Wall

And down down down we go.

v87 - The Whole Gang at Sīmǎtái Rock

It wasn't till we returned to town that I realized I hadn't needed to blow my nose the entire time we were away. Good clean air in the countryside.

v96 - Sun and Hills in Mìyún County

I've posted many more photos of the Great Wall on flickr, if you'd like to see 'em.

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