Great Wall

September 26, 2008

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This shot was taken from inside a sentry tower.

The history of China's Great Wall says that the wall was not built by one emperor. It was built in segments by the kings of several nations over a period of several hundred years.  

However, the Great Wall was completed by China's first emperor after he unified China around 221 BC.

 

Near Beijing, there are two sections of the Great Wall open to tourists.  

The most popular is at Badaling.

The second choice, Mutianyu, is more dramatic.

Since we had visited the Bedaling section several times, we decided to go to the Mutianyu site this trip.

 

The easy way to reach the wall. The other choice is to climb a long way.
Lots of steps.  But that's okay. If you get thirsty or yearn for a snack, horses have carried the goodies on their backs along trails from the valley below. The venders are waiting.

Several Western tourists taking a break.

Robert Hart, the main character in My Splendid Concubine, my historical fiction novel, never mentions the Great Wall in his journals or letters. He may never have visited the wall even though he spent decades living in Beijing as Inspector General for Chinese Maritime Customs.

If you look close, you will see a chair-lift near the top of the picture to the right.  This is not the chair lift we took to reach the wall.  

This second chair-lift may be used to return to the base of the hill after a lot of climbing from the first lift.

There are three choices for returning to the parking lot.  You may walk, take one of two chair-lifts, or ride the toboggan like we did.

If you watched the 2008 Olympics, you may have seen the NBC news-team riding the toboggan (this link will take you on a virtual ride) on its stainless steel curved track from the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall.

 

Question:

What kind of culture and mindset would build the Great Wall to keep trouble out?  

To find the answer, learn about Confucianism and Taoism, the guiding principals behind China's culture and civilization for twenty-five hundred years.

 

China is (or at least was before Western nations arrived) a culture that honored the scholar, the poet and the artist above merchants and generals.

 

Does that sound like a culture we should worry about?

 

My wife and I near the end of our Great Wall trek.

 

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