October 21, 2013 – Beijing Great Wall
We headed to breakfast in the hotel, me with great apprehension, Sally with joyful anticipation. To my surprise and joy, breakfast was a buffet of all types of foods including a great choice of American – eggs scrambled, over easy, sausage, bacon, toast, cereals, waffles, pancakes, pastries – whoopee! Even baked beans for the Brits among us. I decided to stoke up, even though I am trying to eat VERY light on this trip, since I was sure the rest of the day would be unidentifiable Chinese family style. I will survive by living breakfast to breakfast.
On to the bus, and off to The Great Wall – the portion we are visiting is about one hour north of Beijing. En route we travel through Beijing’s business districts.
And then we pass the Olympic Village, including “Bird’s Nest” stadium, and the Olympic McDonalds.
The Great Wall was begun in the 7th century B.C. and was continually expanded and renovated until the early 1900s. Its primary purpose throughout time has been the defense of China, first against warring nomadic tribes and later against armies of invading nations. It general runs from east to west, but it is difficult to give an exact measurement of the wall, since there are actually overlapping and looping sections, gaps, and parallel walls. The generally accepted length is approximately 3889 miles, but the length of all the sections, measured end to end would be over 13,000 miles. Its construction is locally available resources, rammed earth on the open prairies and brick and stone in the mountains. The area we visited, “North Pass” of Juyongguan pass, when used by the Chinese to protect their land, this section of the wall had many guards to defend China’s capital Beijing. This portion of the wall is 26 feet high and 16 feet wide.
Since this was a major section of the wall, protecting the only northern access to Beijing, it contained barracks, offices, and other buildings, like a village, with the wall protecting both to the north and south. As the only access point, it also served as a taxation and immigration control point.
These locks are sold at the site, are engraved with some sort “wish” or comment, your name, the date, and then are locked onto various parts of the wall. I wonder how long they remain?
After another family style Chinese lunch (breakfast is still holding up), we are off to the airport for a two hour flight to Xian, to visit the Terra Cotta Warriors.