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    The Great Wall

    Tuesday, July 12, 2011

    When visiting one of the great wonders of the world, there are many things you may feel. Awe, wonder, excitement. When it's nearing the peak of summer, you may experience heat exhaustion as well.

    But neither heat nor fatigue will stop you from experiencing that moment of breathless delight when you step onto something as grand and ancient as the Great Wall.

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    Think about the age of such a place. The first part of the wall was constructed with stone and earth back in 5th century BC, once China was unified. It was then rebuilt and maintained all the way through the 16th century. The earliest parts of the wall are barely there anymore, but what the public is allowed to walk on, and what is the majority of the wall, was built in the Ming Dynasty.

    Reflecting upon those numbers, and considering how the Great Wall has survived the test of time, you realize just how young America and its own national treasures are in comparison.

    Our first day in Beijing had been filled to the brim with activity. We were tired as could be. But to visit the Great Wall before the hordes and heat set in, we needed to wake early.

    It's about an hour drive from Beijing to the Great Wall, something we didn't realize until our arrival in China, but the drive is worth it. Heading from metropolis into more rural, Chinese countryside, buildings and towers gave way to small farming communities and two-laned dirt roads.

    Suddenly we found ourselves at the bottom of a very steep mountain.

    We didn't see much at first, just stall after stall of aggressive men and women selling souvenirs, but it gave us a good laugh. For while China is a communist republic, Capitalism is very much alive and well at the Great Wall.

    In any case, Jamie, our tour guide extraordinaire explained how we would take a tram to the starting point of the wall, walk to a mid-point, then come back down.

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    In theory it sounded very easy. We thought the only challenge we'd face was the heat~and with good reason. From a distance it looked like we'd be walking across a flat, normal pathway. A few hills here and there, but nothing too difficult.

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    What many may not realize~and I certainly didn't~is that the the Great Wall is pretty treacherous to walk if you're not careful. The stone walkway is slick, worn down by age and people traipsing over them day after day.

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    Steps and stairways range from very steep and far apart,

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    to very long and close together.

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    Often you'd have to bend way down to hold onto a stone handrail to gain balance. Needless to say we were holding the scallywag quite often.

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    These steps were not child friendly.

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    Unless you're these two!

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    Eldest and Eldest Nephew must be part mountain goat, because when a few of us stopped at a Watchtower to enjoy the breeze and shade, they ran through the rest of the Wall then with Jamie accompanying them, ran back.

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    IN-SANE.

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    Beautiful, the wall certainly is, but no matter the time of year, you're in for a good, challenging hike,

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    breathtaking views,

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    and unquestionably one of the most amazing, man-made creations you could possibly see in your lifetime.

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    I feel incredibly blessed to have shared in such a journey with my family. There is no one else I could imagine enjoying it with more.

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    Which brings us to our next journey! Come back tomorrow to find out where our little family of four is moving. We cannot wait to share our next adventure with you all!

    As always, thank you for stopping by, your kind words of encouragement, and for being pretty awesome in general. You're very much appreciated.

    3 Responses to “
    The Great Wall

    Your Southern Peach said...

    How amazing that your kids got to experience The Great Wall. We went back in '08 and it was truly amazing. I'd love to get back there with my kids one day!

    Ally Garner said...

    I'm not sure what's more captivating: the architecture of the wall itself or the stunning views. Just breathtaking!

    I lived overseas for 8 yrs working in Int'l Aid Ministry right after college. I've traveled to more than 50 countries, but never China. I've always, since childhood, wanted to spend time there. I've seen and been to some incredible places, but truly not many places compare to the Great Wall. It's just mind-boggling how well-planned and built it is. I hope the kids, even the scallywag never forget that day!

    Ruth said...

    What a wonderful way to spend the day. I always thought it was flat too.