Sunday, July 1, 2007

Scaling THE Wall

After four days of classes, we took a overnight trip to the one and only Great Wall!

We spent the night next to the Simatai section. The place where we stayed was beautiful and serene - right next to a lake with the outlines of the Great Wall in the background. At 2:00AM, we started our trek. Our goal was to make it to the very top in time for the sunrise, which would have been gorgeous.

Going up the wall is hard enough in the day. Going up when it is pitchdark was so much worse! Guided by the light from our handy dandy cellphones, we were tripping all over the place. Needless to say, our speed was slowed to a crawl. Plus, we failed to achieve our goal in that we did not make it to the top before daylight. Plus, the fog was too dense anyways to see the sunrise.

Anyways, in the Simatai section of the Wall, everything after the 11th tower (12th? I lost count) is forbidden. "Dangerous climbing." Of couse, we did it anyways. It was probably the worst and best decision of my life. When they warned that it was dangerous, they were not kidding. Most of the path was less than a yard wide. Past that, well, it's straight down for a thousand feet. Not much room for error, eh? Also, we had to climb up and down towers that did not have any steps or ladders. The most difficult and scariest challenge was at the very end, of course. It was basically a vertical, 90 degrees climb up to the last tower. Once you're at the top, however, the view is incredible! Definitely worth the trouble and fear, in my humble opinion.

View at the beginning of the climb

Crossing into the unknown... dun dun dun!

Cliff side... don't fall!

Ruins, hundreds of years old

Trekking along, you can see the peak in the middle of the picture

The WALL - To climb or not to climb?

To climb! Of course!

After getting back from the Great Wall and getting a day of rest, I had to move out to my host family's home. I had some reservations about this, but I think it is going to work out really well. First of all, my family is extremely nice! I have a 'mom' (Zuo Mama) and a younger 'sister' (Xin Xin) right now. Zuo Mama does research on radars, and Xin Xin is some kind of karate champion in Beijing! Xin Xin is also trying to go to an American university at the moment. Hopefully, her application for a student visa will be successful.

I have my own room that is pretty big along with a queensize bed. There is no mattress on the bed, so I am sleeping on wood and some blankets. It's not too bad though. I'm more worried about accessing the internet. They pay by the minute. Plus, they are using dail up and windows... 98. Windows NINETY-EIGHT! I haven't seen that in ages! However, sometimes, I get a signal from a wireless server and I can use that to access the net. It comes and goes, and the signal is quite weak. However, it is still much easier than using their computer, which requires a lot of passwords and codes...

Anyways, the best news about the host family is that my mom is a good cook! That is important for me... hehe.

Well, it is really late and homework calls. Have a good night! (Day, in the States, I suppose)



Erin said...

well, someone's a bit of a daredevil... :)

i'm glad you were able to get up there, though! those pictures are absolutely worth the risk.

Anonymous said...

Great work.