The Great Wall of China
A few weeks ago Dan and I piled into a van with friends and headed to the Great Wall. I had been really looking forward to our visit, which we purposely postponed until fall to avoid the intense summer heat. The wall was originally built to protect northern China from invasions by various nomadic tribes. Today numerous sections are open to tourists; our group opted for a lesser-crowded part called Mutianyu.
Although we awoke to rain, the fog had mostly lifted by the time our van pulled into the site's parking lot. We meandered past colorful booths and food stands to buy our entrance tickets, then hopped on a chair lift up the mountain. Views from the lift were breathtaking: The wall snaked high above, mountains blanketed below, and villages hummed in the distance.
Exploring the Great Wall was full-body intensive. In certain areas, climbing the stairs is a workout that makes Stairmaster pale in comparison. I had dressed for a cool fall day, but continued to shed layers while huffing and puffing up the steep steps. As we wandered, we passed many lively characters: a woman running, a man singing to the heavens, and a vendor offering us beer. With each step I marveled at what an enormous physical feat building the wall and watchtowers truly was – incredible! One of the best parts of our trip was sliding down the mountain in a toboggan. Officials positioned at various points along the track shouted at us to slow down, but we rarely obeyed for long.
All in all, an awesome day. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves!