It was an early start to get on the bus and beat some of the morning rush hour traffic out of the Beijing ring roads and into the countryside to arrive at the Badaling section of the amazing great wall of China. Our guide, Lily, told us that Beijing used to be a bay but that centuries of earthquakes had shaped and changed the environment.
Driving through the mountains, we passed Persimmon trees heavy with fruit but lacking any leaves, Lily told us that this particular tree loses its leaves just as the fruit is ready to eat, making them easier to harvest- what a considerate little fruit!
Before we arrived we could see the wall in the distance and winding steps leading to outposts, as a military fortification the wall is intimidating and when you consider its age the entire structure is an ancient wonder.
Once through the admission gate we could choose one of two paths, Route A-easier to traverse but teeming with people or Route B-a cardio blaster but relatively crowd free.
I chose the latter, and huffed and puffed up the steps and slopes, passing hilarious Engrish signs “sleep slope” and tired tourists contemplating giving up and walking back down to the start. With plenty of stops to take photos (AKA catching my breath,) I managed to reach my goal and then scale back down the summit. I was the last of my group who had chosen to come this way but the good company of one comrade who walked back down with me took my mind off my tired knees.
The views were spectacular and just kept getting better the higher you climbed. The wall snaking through the mountainous landscape, tiny dots of faraway people, turrets and posts and little windows to peer out from, I took in all that lay below me and felt very very lucky to be here, in China.
Climbing back down the wall was just as perilous a journey as going up, mostly because the steps were all constructed in different sizes, one wrong move and it would be a very bumpy painful ride down! To steady myself I touched the cool stone of the wall and took a moment to think about the labour that laid these stones and the countless lives that were lost in the wall’s construction centuries ago.
We left the wall and went for some lunch, before heading to the Chinese Medicine Museum and a quick commute to the theater to see the matinee performance of the Chinese Acrobatic Show at the Chaoyang theatre.
Today was amazing, #China just keeps getting better and better!