If you ever feel like getting to China is just too impossible. Have Faith. It’s definitely possible. I had seen most of Asia before I made it to China. For some reason I just kept finding other things, and I felt like if I was going to visit China, I wanted to see it all, I wanted to have enough time. I changed my attitude. The forbidden city wasn’t going to remain forbidden any more. I visited the Chinese embassy on a visit to San Francisco and within a couple of hours I had my visa. I was on my way to the Forbidden city with explicit plans to see the Great Wall of China one of the most exclusive travel lists in the world… the New 7 Wonders of the World!
The Forbidden City, in Beijing at night near Tiananmen Square
I decided, I wasn’t going to have time to spend a month or more in China anyway so I should break up my trip to China and plan it like I would Australia and simply break it into regions. Same as seeing Canada, you just can’t see it all at once. I’m sure many people say the same thing about the USA, or they should. Those who go to NYC and Las Vegas and think they’ve seen the US are kidding themselves. Those who rent an RV and Drive along route 66 are still only seeing one piece, but I understand the draw.
This post is in a series of 7 posts on the 7 Wonders of the New World
- Great Wall of China – Sacrifice of a Nation
- Christ the Redeemer Statue - Religious Icon of Rio Brazil
- Taj Mahal – Sacred Mausoleum of Agra India
- Petra Jordan – Nabataean Cave City of the Desert
- Machu Picchu – Lost Sacred City of the Incas
- Chichen Itza – Ancient Mayan Temple Pyramid
- Colosseum Amphitheatre of the Ancient Roman Empire
Gate to the Forbidden City
China is an amazing country. Looking for a culture shock!?? China is awesome at that. I’ll save another post for digging into my travels into China, and share my Wonder Experiences in a series.
We woke up early to head out to the Great Wall of China. It was surreal. Dux one of my techie friend’s from the Philippines who speaks great Chinese was our real connection to the locals. He helped us arrange a van to take us out to the Great Wall. We drove for a good hour from our hotel. The homes were getting more and more spread out. As we drove along it felt like we were entering the country side. I can’t remember if it was 2 hours, but it seemed like when we thought we were there, it was another 20 minutes. Then once we got into the parking lot, we realized it was going to be another 20-30 minutes of hiking up steps. The wall wasn’t designed for accessibility.
Seeing the wall was promising, but we could really see it from the car. We could see it weaving across the mountains for as far as we could see.
At first it just seems a lot like a wall made of bricks, but then as you take it in… in its magnitude, and splendor to realize its age, its role in history and in its preservation of culture and history… and then really start to understand the sacrifice of this man made feat. It brings humility and awe. Lots of sacrifice.
While we all decided we didn’t want to go down the way we came up, Michael and I decided we wanted to go for a walk, and the other guys decided to take the roller coaster. There were some interesting options once on top. You could walk 2 miles to a gondola one way, or another way was the gravity based roller coaster with a metal track, it was next to an impromptu zoo. We all decided we’d meet back at the bottom of the hill near where they were.
(A few of these photos are from Michael at Sharing The Globe a Traveling companion and Great photographer.)
Walking from tower to tower it seems close, but it really isn’t. It might be 1KM or more between towers. The area where we were while there were a number of tourists, we found space to be alone and found it not too challenging to take people-less photos. Yes, that’s me trying to run between the towers. It isn’t the easiest running, but I imagined those working the walls trying to share a message.
I picked up the Chinese Police hat. While it didn’t go with my jacket, I did like the fun reactions from the locals.
After walking along the wall for a few miles at a pretty fast pace (Can you believe there is a Great Wall Marathon?), I took a couple of early moments to reflect on this incredible structure. While I know it wasn’t all maintained as well as where we saw it, it was amazing about it. It started as far back as the 7th century BC against intrusions and nomadic groups and incursions and in protecting the spice route. Amazing how these towers were used in defense and in notifying the troops of what was coming.
How long is it actually? Depends on if you count the structures that also help support the defense of the wall. I’m going to say more than 5000 miles! Wikipedia proposes a couple of different estimates:
The Great Wall stretches from Shanhaiguan in the east, to Lop Lake in the west, along an arc that roughly delineates the southern edge of Inner Mongolia. A comprehensive archaeological survey, using advanced technologies, has concluded that the Ming walls measure 8,850 km (5,500 mi). This is made up of 6,259 km (3,889 mi) sections of actual wall, 359 km (223 mi) of trenches and 2,232 km (1,387 mi) of natural defensive barriers such as hills and rivers. Another archaeological survey found that the entire wall with all of its branches measure out to be 21,196 km (13,171 mi)
This post is designed to be post 1 in a series of 7 of the Wonders of the World. Follow this blog to be notified of the rest of the series.