Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Great Wall of China

Kelly and Julius and the Great Wall of China

We arrive at Mutianyu, a section of the Great Wall of China, as a light mist is breaking from the clouds. The air is crisp and fresh in contrast to the stale, polluted air of Beijing. I zip up my sweater, wishing I had brought my rain jacket. We make our way up the street to the entrance, where we will take a chair lift to the Great Wall. Despite the light rain, obnoxious vendors are still circulating and hawking their wares, but I ignore them. 

Our driver gives us the tickets and tells my uincle he'll be waiting for us at the car. We hop on the rickety chair lift that will take us to our destination. It's strange riding a chair lift without any snow in sight, and as we float high above the tree tops, I try not to think about when was the last time they inspected these chairs for safety. It's so silent and serene up here, and the whisper of the motor is soothing. It's hard to believe that we aren't far from the chaotic metropolis of Beijing. 

On the chair lift to the Great Wall

Below us I see a long and winding toboggan track, which is how we will be getting back down from the wall, and as far as the eye can see, the Great Wall stretches out and snakes across the mountain top, as impressive as I had imagined it would be. 

The Wall snaking across the mountaintops

My uncle, Julius and I walk along the wall, but in some places we have to practically climb up the steep stairs. We get to the end of the rennovated area, where we find a sign admonishing us to go no further. We are intrigued to see the "real" Great Wall of China in it's untouched state after deterioriating for so many years, so we choose not to heed the sign and carry on. 

The Wall in ruins

After awhile we can't go any further. The wall is simply in ruins. We head back to toward where the chair lift had dropped us off, stopping to take pictures here and there. 

We can't wait to go down the toboggan slide, but as we approach the ticket counter, the lady in the booth shakes her head. It's closed because of the rain. It's too dangerous. I laugh to myself. That's the first time I've heard that in China! Usually it's anything goes, but I guess even some things are not allowed. 

The toboggan