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The Great Wall of China……………

May 5, 2010

This past weekend we hopped over to Beijing to see the Great Wall of China. That sounds crazy, right? Well it was, kind of. I truly never imagined that I would “hop” over to China. But it was fantastic.

The Great Wall is certainly great. Construction of the wall began in 221 BC under the direction of the first Chinese Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi. Further construction was accomplished during the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644). It is now 4,000 miles long. Urban legend holds that the Great Wall is the only structure on earth that you can see from outer space – but the actual astronauts who have been in outer space seem to dispute that. I’ll go with what they said.

So the Great Wall is up, up, up on top of the mountain – that means if you want to climb it, you must go up a lot of stairs – and by a lot, I mean A LOT. We climbed stairs for about an hour and a half. That was mostly because I way dumbed us down and took a long time getting to the top. My kids probably could have done it in an hour no problem. But, did I mention, it’s a lot of stairs? And stairs that were built a very long time ago – so some are really tall and some are not so much tall and some are crooked. And the handrail was meant for people with not very long arms. So, it is not like stairmaster stairs or escalator stairs. It’s more like Dr. Seuss stairs. Tall stairs, small stairs, and crooked stairs too. Up some, down some, and over some too.

And I learned this about China. Most of the doorways in the older structures have a step within them. I was told this is because they believe that evil spirits are short and cannot enter a doorway with a step in it. Okay – I am not one to point out minor details – but if an evil spirit has to climb, let’s just say 1,000 steps to even get to the doorway, it seems a wee bit redundant to put one more obstacle before him. But, hey, better safe than sorry on the “keeping evil spirits out” philosophy!

We did not have time to go see the terra cotta warriors while we were in China – so it was fun that these guys were there. Too bad he wasn’t available to carry me up the stairs.

And I think you should heed this warning.

We saw these locks lining the walls. I wish I had known that they were the “locks of love”. Couples come and add their lock to the chain, then throw the key over the side of the wall. I would have totally done this with hubby!

There are a few pit stops along the way – a couple of places to buy a drink or an ice cream or souvenirs. But there is only one “bathroom”. So go before you go. Or you will be squatting for all the world to see. This picture will surely totally confuse some of my western readers. So, I will answer a few questions – yes, this is the women’s restroom. No, there are no doors. No, there is not toilet paper. Yes, it is at least inside a room – a room with windows – but a room. Yes, be thankful this is not a scratch and sniff blog.

The girls and I went in thinking it would be a good idea to take advantage of the facilities and then we decided that we could wait for a better option. But on the way back down, I wanted to get a picture for you dear blog readers. So, armed with my camera, I turned the corner to take a picture and a woman was – let’s just say busy – so, I quickly stepped back out. It was really hysterical when she came out and tried to explain to me what the “bathroom” was. I just said, “yes, I understand, bathroom. Just wanted a picture – not willing to actually use it.”

This is me – totally ready for the adventure…

And this is me about half-way up thinking “how much further?”.

Just a few tips. You don’t need to carry your purse. You won’t really need a lipstick at the top of the wall. A water bottle is a good idea though. And I did start off wearing a sweatshirt with a light sweater underneath with a t-shirt under that. I was glad to have the layers. We were there in early April and it was chilly starting off. But as we walked up more and more steps, we were glad to shed the sweatshirts. I was also happy to have my sweater to put back on as we went back down the stairs. It turns out going down is much, much easier than going up.

This sign either says “Great Wall” or “do you have any idea how many steps that is?”

It was interesting also to see that there were no first aid stations or anything like that. So, really be careful if you decide to take this hike. I am sure most people are fine – but take breaks when you need them – and do eat a good breakfast. Truly, just when I thought we were getting close, we turned around another guard tower just to find more steps. Steps that were going up.

The views were spectacular.

And if you do make it all the way to the top, cartwheels are absolutely in order!

And going down is much easier when you “slide” down. ;-)

Wall in Wall it was a “great” trip.

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20 Comments leave one →
  1. January 13, 2013 7:10 am

    So much talk about this wall in China and nothing about India and its own wall…A frontier made of bush, trees,…Something impermanent that no more exist but that divided India in the 19° century.

  2. July 3, 2010 1:22 am

    Did you know that The Great Wall of China is not a continuous strip of wall? This is a collection of walls continues along the hills to the south end of the plains of Mongolia. 221-206 was built in BEC mud and rocks, supported by wooden frames to prevent the nomads of Mongolia to enter the Chinese territory.

  3. May 13, 2010 2:13 pm

    lol……

    Absolutely you’re really a BRAVE lady!!! i went to there so many times,but i’ve never worked so long time as you did! it’s just too tired and watch those steps, st walk slowly and take rest enjoy the nature, otherwise, it could be a very tired trip at the WAL,and we’re not harry to send emergency message at 21st century,in ancient time the soldat just put fire at the balefire stage,if they know we really hate those steps,they could construct a high way in the WALL or just install a cable car system in case we really can not walk that long from step to step,you see? even it’s called Great Wall,but it’s not really Great 2000 years later for us as tourists. ^&^

    You could call 120 in case some accident,one helicopter will come immediately, i’ve found there has so many first aid station in the mountain in south korea,that’s great,unfortunately all of the first aid box are locked! instead,there hasemergency number 119 ,it means we must to call 119 then one helicopter will come and we could open the box……^&^

    To what you’ve learned of “keeping evil spirits out” philosophy, THAT SMALL STEP is always exist in all the entrane of the door. it’s not exactly what you’ve learnd about it,but it’s
    about Fengshui, (it means what it is good for living in our house) , this small step used for
    STOP THE WATER WHEN IT RAINS the water can enter the room at begaining,but later people Evoluer it,as it could keep all the bad chance outside the door,NOTHING TO see with “keeping evil spirits out”.

    I’ve just Realized this chinese door systerm is really raisonable,as i am living in Africa,i’ve got so many problem with the door, it’s raining season,when it rains,the water always enter in the house(even it’s a beautiful villa ),and 3 days ago,i’ve found a nearly 1 metre green snake which just entered UNDER THE DOOR,if there has a small step like you saw it in China,i woudn’t be so scared with that long snake,and i dont need to be worried about the water\snake or lizard which can enter the house by under the door.

    I’ve just thought about people were very intelligent in ancient time, some old tradition exist with the raison naturally.

    Anyway,it’s good to travel around to discover others places and to learn little bit other’s cultures,it can really make us more intellgent, it makes us to realize that we really dont know much, like all the professor tell always like: i really know nothing, I really appreciate them.

    Continue travelling……

    VOYAGEUSE.

    • May 15, 2010 11:35 am

      Welcome Jecy. Thanks for all the information – it was so interesting to read and stopping water makes sense! 8-)

  4. Ann permalink
    May 10, 2010 8:57 pm

    Oh man, I want to walk the Great Wall someday. Maybe your next adventure will provide me with that opportunity! You are the best Tour Guide Barbie!

    • May 10, 2010 9:54 pm

      Tee hee – I will hold your purse while you walk up all those steps – there are quite a few. 8-)

  5. May 5, 2010 3:25 pm

    How exciting and tiring that must have been. I totally would have slid down!

    • May 5, 2010 8:51 pm

      I had to slide down part of it – although not quite as gracefully as my kids – but it was so much faster!

  6. May 5, 2010 12:30 pm

    Excellent post! Now I’m jealous, the Great Wall is on my bucket list. However, I’m glad you mentioned the stairs – it seems obvious but I had no idea.

    • May 5, 2010 8:50 pm

      Thanks Moe! It was awesome – and I totally know what you mean – it seems so obvious – but really it’s not just “stairs” ;-)

  7. Nancy permalink
    May 5, 2010 11:18 am

    What a way to spend a weekend! I am so happy that you are making THE ABSOLUTE MOST of your time there. What lucky kids!

  8. May 5, 2010 11:16 am

    Way to tell a story reason2! This belongs in a travel magazine! Time to submit if you aren’t a few steps (haha) ahead of me already. Absolutely loved it! You have a voice that’s so easy to love! And you never get tired of reading it Case and point: It’s 1am and this is what I’m up to! It’s a gift!

  9. May 5, 2010 9:33 am

    my quads are ACHING just reading that!

  10. Liz Persell permalink
    May 5, 2010 7:54 am

    Wow! So glad to you did this! Thanks for sharing. I love the picture of you half way up with hand on your hip. Made me laugh hard. See you soon.

    Liz

    • May 5, 2010 9:50 am

      It’s great to say we did it – I was questioning my sanity about half way up. Of course hubby said “you don’t have to go all the way up.” Yeah right – I am gonna go to China and climb 1/2 way up that flippin wall. ;-)

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