China, The Great Wall - Took Apart by the Locals
From the capital of Beijing, the most visited (and easiestly accessible) part of the Great Wall of China called Badaling can be reached by bus number 877. The ride takes about an hour and costs less than 5 yuan when you have a card at the Beijing public transport. You just put it on the bus to the reader and drive.
The Chinese are smaller than we Europeans, Chinese buses therefore are adapted to this: 2 seats - a narrow aisle - 3 seats. The three of us are smashed on our tri-seat and look impatiently out of the window when we see IT. The whole ride is accompanied by a nice guide. Pity we do not understand a word she says.
Upon arrival at Badaling, the driver puts a piece wood under wheels so the bus doesn´t drive away unintentionally. We look at the timetable, at what time we have to catch a return bus going and we head to the ticket office, where we buy a ticket for our life experience for 35 yuan (approx.).
The Great Wall of China is a fascinating structure that breathes its long history. We walk through her restrained part, and imagine how the soldiers traveled through the horses, and watchers in the guard towers guarded the enemy. The walk is quite challenging, as the Great Wall of China passes through the mountains, and often we have to climb the stairs and climb steeply. Stairs are sometimes unusually high, up to half a meter long. If you have health restrictions (or you are lazy like most Chinese), you can use the local cable car.
In our minds, we travel through the period of the Qin, Chan and Ming dynasties when the Great Wall of China served as a defensive wall and signaling system. From one watchtower to another, signals were transmitted using flags or smoke. The wall stretches far into the mountains where the eye can see. However, its not, its total length is said to be unbelievable 21,000 kilometers!
Although the myth that the Great Wall of China is visible from the universe, it has been debunked but still it is the fact that this is the largest building in the world that you have created. The paradox is that for this amazing building, one of the greatest enemies is now the descendants of those who have built it in the sweat of blood - the locals of the part of the wall are dismantling for their own building purposes. Although it is one of the seven wonders of the world and is also listed on UNESCO, it is already dilapidated in some places.
Text and photos: Michal Hejl
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