After 16 hours of a crowded train ride where Hanaffan and Lars had to sleep on the floor, we finally arrived in Beijing!
Beijing was nice, colorful and the city was clean. After wandering around for a couple of hours we were picked up by the transportation of our guest house, once in there I was happy to see how big, clean and fresh was the place. The house had a peculiar construction especially designed to be a comfortable shelter during all the stations of the year. They also had 2 nice gardens with edible and ornamental plants. There were 2 dogs, 4 rabbits and 2 cats, also plenty happy chicken running and eating freely. Our room was huge with a concrete bed full of thick blankets and rice pillows. The bed was about 3.50 mt X 1.85 mt wide. Smelled like flowers.
After leaving our belongings in the room we went to see the surroundings where we found little fields with fruit trees and some nets to catch fruit eater birds. Unfortunately there were two beautiful big specimens already dead hanging in the nets.
When we returned to the guest house we had a healthy meal, chat a bit with the owner, took a shower and around 6pm we were already in bed. Lars, Hanaffan and me slept together but the bed was so big that everybody could sleep in star shape and still wouldn’t touch the other.
Next day we woke up, prepared the backpack with some vegetables and water, had breakfast and went to ask the lady of the house the instructions to get to the Great Wall that we could clearly see form the guest house. She explained that there were 3 options, the first one was easy and it was around 20 minutes walking, the second option was around 2 hours climbing the mountain and the third option was around 4 hours to get to the top. We chose the third option. Then, I got beers and our adventure began!
The day was sunny and hot so we were sweating very much from the very beginning. First we went through a road were we found two bee farmers with their bees and their delicious honey barrels plus 2 dogs that didn’t stop barking at us trying to protect the property of their owners. The side of the road had some apple, apricot and berry trees with some fruits we enjoyed. Few meters ahead we found an old lady that was resting aside the road. She was wearing an army uniform and had two big bags filled up with wild apricots. She collected them to take the seeds out of the fruit, roast them and sell them. This is a very precious snack in China! She gave us a lot of these seeds to eat during our journey and she said good bye with the sweetest smile…
We kept walking until we finally arrived to the foot of the mountain were our climbing would start. The path was narrow and rocky. Wild plants with spines and small flowers were along our way. We were enjoying the landscape.
I was heading the expedition clearing the way for the other two but I didn’t have machete and still didn’t find a thick stick to side apart the spiny plants, so I had to do it with my bare hands and because I didn’t want to get cut I was very careful, which means I was pretty slow!
We kept going, resting from time to time and drinking few zips of water to make it last. My dear Hanaffan was carrying on his backpack all the weight of the food and the water, in total around 7 kilos plus some cans and plastic bottles we found in our way and that we were committed to pick up always that it was possible.
After a while we could see the Great Wall so we hurried up and finally we were stepping on the Great Wall of China… thousand years of history!
But…it was not even half of what I had in my mind, nor the shape, nor the colour, nor the place. Even though it was AMAZING!!!
Our Great Wall was a path of white rocks put together with concrete (I think this was a restoration work made recently), the path didn’t have any wall but there were some control towers that looked somehow similar to the images that we see on the TV. Anyway, to get to the control tower we had to go up the stairs that had around 100 steps. When we arrived to the top we could see the control tower that was restored and looked like it should have been back in its time…although frankly, this constructions looked very modern to be 5000 years old but as we know, the Great Wall was built during many dynasties so the materials and the techniques of constructions should have been different according to the time.
On this side of the wall there were almost no tourists and the reason is because this is not the side of the wall that is offered in tours in Beijing. In any case we were happy to be almost the only ones there….
Ok! once we calmed our excitement down, we stayed to rest a bit, take some pictures, eat our vegetables, drink some water and speculate about the history of the place, what happened there in the daily life of the guards. I just sent a nice thought to the thousand workers who died while building this wonder and who disappeared in the earth of the mountain. My respect to them.
After this we decided to walk along the wall in North direction to keep discovering the wonders it had to offer. To our surprise only the previous place we were in was restored and was for “sight seeing and pictures taking”. The other control towers and ground were almost destroyed by the time, almost about to collapse. We went up and down the path that looked like a giant snake. We were careful not to fall, The stones piled up were lose. All the constructions in the control towers were different. In some places the ground was only modelled stones in brick shapes placed carefully together with concrete. IN other places the ground was just lose rocks with abstract shapes and in other places the control towers were made of fine small bricks already destroyed by the years.
We continued walking and crawling, The path was every time more and more uncrossable, we could try to keep going forward but we didn’t want to go back. Around the 15:00 o’clock we began searching for a return way to the guest house but without stepping back, so we continued forward. Soon we were afraid not to be able to get back before night time. We thought that it could have been nice to camp up there but we didn’t bring our sleeping bags nor anything to light a fire. Moreover the control towers available in our sight were so destroyed that it was not even possible to step inside, even less using them as a shelter.
After a while we decided to descend the mountain, get inside the bush and try to open a way. Hanaffan was leading this time because we had no time to loose and we needed to go back to the village (as he was not worried about the cuts of the spines on his skin, he was just walking carefree and ended up with arms and legs cut and bleeding)…
Lars was following Hanaffan and I was the last one. Few by few we were descending and getting happier and happier when we discovered somehow we were on a right way.
We kept clearing our way but we discovered some pieces of cloth tied in the branches that made us think that there were people in our same situation before and they marked the way for others in the future.
Finally, after a long while fighting with the bushes, the spines and the slippery earth we arrived to the foot of the mountain! I was extremely joyful…for sure a story to share and remember!