The Great Wall of China, 2008

Beijing Travel Blog

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What can I say. You always hear that pictures never do justice to the places and things they capture; it's true once again. This experience is right at the very top of my list of life experiences. You can check out my pics, butttttt, if there is any way possible to see it in person, do it, sell a kid if need be. :) well, maybe not that.

We took off at 6:40 in the big AM for our 3-4 hour journey to the Great Wall in JinShaling (I'll have to edit my spelling attempts at some point). This place, while still on the big tourist map, was a bit further out of the way and less frequented by the majority of peoples.
Case in point, there were about 30 of us on this particular stretch of the wall, a fact to be appreciated when you're taking pics and don't want 87 people in the background.

Once we got there, we hiked up a ravine for about 20 minutes, straight up a ravine. Like, of a mountain. We were sucking some air. Finally we see the wall and we hop on. Then we looked off into the distance. Then we spent 15 minutes taking pictures. Then we hiked another 250 meters up and started taking more pictures. It was phenomenal. We were in the middle of the mountains and there was nothing on either side of us for miles. We hiked up, then down, then up, then down some more. It was exhilarating. There were quite a few rather steep, treacherous sections, and a couple of spots where we had to get off and walk around some crumbling areas.
It all added up to a little more authentic feel than the perfectly restored bricks of other sections of the Great Wall. And it just kept going on and on forever. On most sections you could look in front of you and behind and see the Wall going off into the mountains for what seemed like forever. It was a bit surreal, to say the least.

After 3.5 hours of hiking and picture snapping, we approached the end of the hike. We stumbled down into another ravine with a gorgeous turquoise river at the bottom, and the Wall going straight up the mountain on the other side. By this point the legs were a bit numb so I was a bit relieved to find out we weren't climbing up this mountain. Instead, we crossed the river on a suspension bridge, hiked up a 150 meters or so, then zip lined back down across the river back to the other side.
Yeah, that's right, zip lining off the Great Wall. Ahsaa! The zip line lasted about a minute but was quite the distance. I took a video of the whole thing and I sound like a little girl screaming throughout the ride. Well, maybe like a fierce lion or something... yeah, that's it.

I cannot comprehend how in the world this thing was built in such rugged territory, and was completely awestruck by the splendor, size, and magic of it all. I was tired but I just felt like I was soaring about afterwards, and sorry that we had to leave. I cannot honestly describe the emotions of it all, the sense of being part of something so much bigger than life, that's lasted so long, a true monument to man's greatness, if there can be such a thing. I was almost dumbstruck throughout, unable to comprehend how fortunate I am to do this, how long it's been since I first heard of this Wall. And then, there I am, hopping around, eating oreos, and being silly and at the same time feeling so much inside, all while hiking a path hiked by 100s of 1000s before me. So old and so new. Beautiful.
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photo by: Eric