After such a great breakfast the day before, I was excited to make my way to the buffet a second time. I indulged in potstickers, rice porridge with condiments (congee), sweet glutinous rice balls (zongzi), and a couple of crackers with cheese. Fueled up and full, I gathered with our group in the lobby and soon we headed out for the 2 hour bus drive to…. the Great Wall!
I was so excited for this day because I was finally going to be able to experience THE Great Wall of China. A hallmark of Asia. A World Wonder.
We arrived at a special part of the Badaling section of the Wall which was reserved for small tour groups and away from the clamouring crowds of other tourists. The air was brisk and the sky was a hazy gray. We parked near the bottom of the Wall where a small trail made its way up to the snaking gradure. With 2 hours given to for us to walk around, I set out right away up the trail. With no one in front of me, I was able to capture great photos of my ascent. At the end of the trail, I closed my eyes and took my first steps onto the Wall. It was an extremely exciting and fulfilling sensation- at that moment, I was able to make a connection with the stories and history I had been told, my own personal ancestry, and the present.
As I continued to climb the incredibly uneven steps, the view below me grew larger and larger. My out of shape legs eventually got tired, but adrenaline and exhilteration pumped through my veins and kept me climbing step after step. I thought to myself, “I am climbing the Great Wall of China”, I had to keep going. I walked through watchtowers which I had learned there were two types: one built to store food and water, and other made for fighting, either fitted with cannons or signal stations to send black smoke messages across the Wall.
The Wall snaked up and down along the mountains in the distance like a dragon on the ground. Each time I thought I was at the highest point, I would spot an even high point in the distance, hundreds of yards away from me. It was incredible to see the Wall sprawling in the distance, endless and cold. I finally stopped climbing once I had reached a tall point and saw that the next highest spot was over a mile out. Instead of continuing, I took the time to snap pictures in all directions and catch my breath while taking in the view. I waited for mom to meet me at the top, but she ended up turning around beforehand. Luckily, we were able to get a picture near the entrance of the Wall before heading back to the bus so we had proof of trekking the amazing site together.