China Travel Story - China: A Country of Greatness
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China: A Country of Greatness
I have traveled extensively throughout China, especially over the last two summers and in my time there I have fell further and further in love with the country.
During my last trip I spent most of my time in southern China. I enjoyed the modern cities of Hong Kong and Kunming as well as the tradition and culture offered by Lhasa in Tibet. Of course I couldn't resist going back to the Siamatai section of the Great Wall again. This truly is the 8th wonder of the ancient world and when you are there you really get a feeling for it. What makes this part the best is that it is the part that is in best condition yet it hasn't been restored. As far as the eye can see, it stretches out and its history is fascinating.
The Great Wall was built over a period of one thousand years by Chinese emperors for many reasons, the most prominent of which was to keep the "barbarians" or mongols out of the country. This 10,000 mile long wall would extend from Miami, Florida to the North Pole. Or, to give a better picture, if you laid out all the bricks to form a wall around the equator you'd end up with a wall five feet high and three feet wide. Such a massive project cost a modern-day equivalent of $360 billion, about the same as we've spent on our nation's highway system in the last 40 years.
I stayed near by this section of the wall in a nice and quiet little hotel that had been pre arranged for me. Now, for some reason, I just can't recall its name but I do remember it very well. I was picked up in the morning by my local guide who also had a driver with her, it seemed like everywhere in China the guides always had separate drivers. The drive wasn't that long and the car was air conditioned making the ride much nicer.
Once you actually get there you will really see what I am talking about. The views and scenery are amazing with lucious hill sides full of green. Everywhere for 360 degrees there are smooth rolling hills and mountains. It is like something from a dream. When you're up there you will probably not be surprised at the number of people. I'm not saying that it is so crowded that you can't even see anything, believe me you will easily be able to go to the edge for some spectacular photos. Also though, it is not deserted since it is a symbol of great national pride and is also known to nearly everyone on earth.
While up there I also saw some Chinese military men, just a few normally by themselves or in groups of two, walking around and making sure that no one damages anything I guess. This is a correct thing to do though since this section is so well preserved and the Chinese want to keep it that way.
As you walk along the wall you will see how nicely it was put together. The stones are pretty straight and well placed and the wall seems very new in a way. Every few hundred feet there are watch towers from which fires could be set to warn of invading forces. Supposedly the Chinese built these watch towers so they were close enough that arrows could be shot from the towers and still manage to cover the whole distance giving each tower half of the distance and the other one got the other half.
Depending on where you start and how long you walk you will come to sections of the wall that have been destroyed or have just fallen apart so much that they are unsafe to walk on. All of these sections have been closed off and the parts that you do walk on are entirely safe.
As for vendors and just locals in general they were very kind, as I have found most Chinese people to be and they were not aggressive in their selling. If you said no they would probably leave you alone. Many of the locals who spoke English liked to tell you stories, especially the older ones, and it is captivating to listen to them spill their knowledge out on you. This is very nice because in many places I have been, most significantly Cairo, the locals grow tired of the steady flow of tourists and can even be hostile.
The only con to the Great Wall is that hike up to it can be hard on those who are in very bad shape but even so, being there gives you a feeling found no where else. My advice is that if you are ever anywhere near the Simatai Great Wall make sure to have it a priority. You will not be disappointed!
The Bottom Line: Nearly everyone has heard of the glory of The Great Wall so you should go visit it, remember you only live once!
Story Courtesy to Norwaynick