Well, you knew it was going to come to this sometime before we left Beijing. Admit it. After all, no blog about China is complete without at least a reference to The Great Wall, and Beijing is situated pretty close to a portion of it. And in case you’re wondering why we’re here, it’s always been one of Ursula’s dreams to stand upon this enormous structure.
According to our Great Guide Jim Mao, the Great Wall was built because the Mongolian hoards and others from the north were basically using China to the south as one big ATM machine, and the Chinese got tired of them constantly invading to make withdrawals. So, at it’s most basic, The Great Wall was ancient China’s attempt at “Border Control.”
If you don’t believe me, this is my photo from an earlier blog of the U.S. version (only our version is a whole lot uglier and will never make it as a UNESCO World Heritage Site):
The Great Wall is the single largest structure ever made by man. I’ll have more on that, including some awesome statistics, on Wednesday’s blog.
While we were traversing this small portion of The Great Wall we stumbled upon one of our countrymen who was fulfilling a long time ambition of his — to sit upon The Great Wall while capturing it in a painting of his very own making:
In this next photograph you’ll see two uniformed guards. Look closely and you’ll note no weapons in those holsters. The police throughout China were also conspicuously without weapons. You’ll also see a discreet earpiece in the right ear of the guard closest to the camera. What may not be immediately obvious to you is the third guard, and I noticed this wherever we saw uniformed guards in military garb. In each instance, approximately ten or so feet to one side, you’ll always find another person standing nearby with a very watchful eye on the crowd. The covert guard in this case is the warmly dressed chap with his back to the wall, smiling toward the two uniformed guards. They’re usually not so obvious to spot.
The Great Wall in this area generally follows natural ridge lines for easy defense. In other areas you’ll see segments drop along the sides of hills.
Wherever we went we were greeted with throngs of people. Many were very amused at the stocky, bearded American wearing a People’s Army winter guard hat with a rather large, rather conspicuous red star. Hey, at least it was warm, and it has since found a home amidst my extensive hat collection. We were stopped several times and asked if people could pose with us for a photograph. Others tried to covertly snap a shot until I invited them to come over and pose next to us as well.
I’ll have more information and photos for you on Wednesday, and Fun Photo Friday will highlight my favorite shots of The Great Wall.