Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Walking the Wall

Today was a big day.

Today I got to check something off my bucket list: walking along the Great Wall of China.

After a few iterations of our original wall plan (hike from Jinshanling to Simatai... both of which are currently closed), we settled on hiring a taxi to take us out to Mitianyu.

I'm not sure what I was expecting, but you can see from the picture above that this section of the wall is long, steep, and definitely a little restored.

Interesting tidbit about the Great Wall: the steps are designed to be uneven as a way of making it more difficult for enemies to traverse. Unfortunately, in this case, us tourists are lumped in with the enemies and it definitely makes for some interesting walking.

Another interesting tidbit: several weeks of incline training on the treadmill should have been swapped for the stairmaster. We climbed this set of stairs and another long set afterwards. It was the good workout I was hoping for, but boy was it exhausting! I'm pleased to report that I beat everyone to the top who started up the stairs at the same time as me, except for my travel buddy.

The scenery is rugged and beautiful. It's hard to believe that a wall was even necessary for guarding China (or whatever subset of unified states were in existence), given the rugged terrain. As it turns out, the wall never actually served the purpose of keeping the enemies out, since sentries could be bribed, but the lighting signals in the towers let the country know when to mobilize for war and also served as an "elevated highway." (This fact courtesy of my Lonely Planet guide; the previous one courtesy of my travel buddy.)

Anyway... the Great Wall was absolutely amazing and the drive through rural China was very interesting. I saw a lot of things I'd never seen before: people working the fields manually and making bricks in the sun. Jet lag is currently winning as I fight to keep my eyes open long enough so I don't wake up too early tomorrow morning.

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