Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Great Wall, Part 2: How Great Thou Art

My trip up the wall... wait, no, I meant, er...Ok, guess I walked into that.

Starting again: They take you up to the wall in cable cars. Pretty much terrifying for someone who, when he approaches a ledge, has the impulse to jump to remove the anxiety. But worth the fear, too, because suddenly, somewhere in the ascent, the noise of the world completely falls away. It's just birds chirping and the wind. And me.

And once you get up there -- well, I bet it depends on which part of the wall you go to. My friends suggested a place called Mutianyu, because they said it was less touristy. And indeed it was; I was up there by 9:30am, and there was hardly a person around. Most of the people seemed to go in one direction (the more iron man, oh so hilly one). I proceeded in the other. And after not too long ago, I came across -- well, first I came across signs saying go back, you can't go further, even though there were more stairs and little keeps. Assuming the signs were a bad translation of English (probably they meant to say, Go on, go further. Yeah, that's the ticket...), I went on. Then I came to pretty much a dead end -- no more concrete, another sign, this one with something about danger, and scrub brush ahead.

But through the brush wound a path. So what I was supposed to do, just ignore it. Heck no. I followed it.

And I came upon the end of the road, a little ruined fort. And I spent a couple hours there, mostly all by myself, just taking in this holy world.

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