March 9, Day 2: The Great Wall of China

When I was a kid (well, I’m still kid at heart 🙂 ), I love reading history books. I’m always fascinated on how people built the Wonders of the World such as the Pyramid of Giza and The Great Wall of China. Considering that there is no technology yet during those ancient times. Everything is done manually and yet, they were able to create this amazing structures. I always dreamed of visiting those places and finally, yes! I was able to see and visit the Great Wall of China.

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Woke up at 4am, not too much excited for the Great Wall tour huh! it’s actually due to colds (I have an allergic rhinitis). I was surprised that the hostel have no electric power. It was too dark that I had to use my cellphone as my light to get my tissue. Need to sneeze since I can’t breathe, waah! After few sneeze, I felt better then the power is back and slept again. Finally woke up at 6am and took a shower. Before going down, I usually put perfume to smell good. All along I thought the perfume inside the ziplock is mine. Camil was shocked and puzzled why I used it and told her that the cap maybe inside my bag. Then we found out that we have the same perfume – Lanvin! What a coincidence! 👭The ones inside the ziplock belongs to Camil since mine is inside my pouch with cap. We can’t stop but laugh at it. 😜

After eating our breakfast, we left the hostel past 8am. Today’s weather is the coldest weather in our trip. It’s at -4 degree but feels like -10 degree. Hope the clothes that I’m wearing can protect me from the cold winds. The Mutianyu Great Wall is two hours away from Beijing so we had to ride a van, c/o Mr. Ping who organized our tour. He loves to talk with tourist so he can practice his English. And he also drives very fast! Check his website: http://www.bestbeijingtours.com for their Beijing tours.

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with Mr. Ping (in blue shirt)

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We arrived at the Mutianyu entrance past 10am. We need to ride another shuttle (less than 10mins ride) to Great Wall.64IMG_2913

But you still need to ride a light cable car before going to the foot of the Great Wall.

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And then, it’s the start of our trek, sight-seeing and photoshoot again.

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snow 🙂

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We had to climbed lots of stairs ~ “Stairway to Heaven” to be able to see the tower and the breath taking view of the wall.

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Good thing, I brought some water, cookies and Otap with me. Otap is a local biscuits made in the Philippines. I share it with my fellow backpackers and even to the other foreign tourist. Then suddenly, we heard an announcement: “Beware of Illegal Wanderers!” They thought I was selling biscuits since I offered it to other foreign tourist. So they were all teasing me as the “illegal wanderer”.

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Another stupid thing that I did is that I accidentally called Darvs as Drev. They all looked at me smiling and laughing, who the hell is Drev? Darvs told me that  he took a lot of my solo pictures and yet I still don’t know him. Sorry, maybe it’s the cold weather that affected my memory. So to avoid the same error again, I memorize their names. I was also able to bond with the other participants, trying to know them more esp. the two boys  – Frandy and Darvs who are my new photographers.

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After four (4) hours of sightseeing and photo opt, we finally went down via Toboggan ride. At first I was really scared and told them that I want to be the last since I’m the slowest driver. But to my surprise, it’s not that scary at all. I even had to push the brake to make it faster. It was an awesome ride. I really enjoyed it but pictures and video are not allowed so I had no photos during my ride.

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Finally, lunch time at 2pm. We were divided into 3 tables. Table 1 – Tikoy, Phoebe, Ate Ibang and family. Table 2 – the girls; me, Camil, Lee, Aica and Gic. Table 3 – Liz, Kha, Frandy and Darvs.  There’s a bowl for condiments but still covered with plastic. Aica told us that it might not be free for use. Instead of asking the waitress, we just looked at the other table. If Tikoy used it, then it’s free. Aica said, she doesn’t use things unless it’s free. So we all opened and use it. When we are going to pay our lunch bill, we are short of 10 CNY. So we asked the waitress and found out that it’s our bill for using the bowl. We paid an additional  2 CNY each. It’s always better to ask!5

We left the Great Wall at 3:30pm and arrived at Silk Market at 5:30pm for souvenir shopping. We didn’t do a lot of shopping since the cost of  clothes are really high. Went back to hostel at 8:30pm then off to Hyper Market for some grocery.

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Here’s a history of the Great Wall of China (source: history.com):

There are 3 different Great Wall Tours being offered:

1. Badaling Great Wall and Ming Tombs at 180 CNY/person

2. Mutianyu Great Wall at 280 CNY/person. This is the tour that we had. Former US President Bill Clinton is one of the famous people who went here.

3. Jinshanlin Great Wall at 320 CNY/person.

Perhaps the most recognizable symbol of China and its long and vivid history, the Great Wall of China actually consists of numerous walls and fortifications, many running parallel to each other. Originally conceived by Emperor Qin Shi Huang (c. 259-210 B.C.) in the third century B.C. as a means of preventing incursions from barbarian nomads into the Chinese Empire, the wall is one of the most extensive construction projects ever completed. The best-known and best-preserved section of the Great Wall was built in the 14th through 17th centuries A.D., during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). Though the Great Wall never effectively prevented invaders from entering China, it came to function more as a psychological barrier between Chinese civilization and the world, and remains a powerful symbol of the country’s enduring strength.

Though the beginning of the Great Wall of China can be traced to the third century B.C., many of the fortifications included in the wall date from hundreds of years earlier, when China was divided into a number of individual kingdoms during the so-called Warring States Period. Around 220 B.C., Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of a unified China, ordered that earlier fortifications between states be removed and a number of existing walls along the northern border be joined into a single system that would extend for more than 10,000 li (a li is about one-third of a mile) and protect China against attacks from the north.

Construction of the “Wan Li Chang Cheng,” or 10,000-Li-Long Wall, was one of the most ambitious building projects ever undertaken by any civilization. The famous Chinese general Meng Tian directed the project, and was said to have used a massive army of soldiers, convicts and commoners as workers. Made mostly of earth and stone, the wall stretched from the China Sea port of Shanhaiguan over 3,000 miles west into Gansu province. In some strategic areas, sections of the wall overlapped for maximum security (including the Badaling stretch, north of Beijing, that was later restored by the Ming dynasty). From a base of 15 to 50 feet, the Great Wall rose some 15-30 feet high and was topped by ramparts 12 feet or higher; guard towers were distributed at intervals along it.

With the death of Qin Shi Huang and the fall of the Qin dynasty, much of the Great Wall fell into disrepair. After the fall of the Han dynasty (206 B.C.-220 A.D.), a series of frontier tribes seized control in northern China. The most powerful of these was the Northern Wei dynasty (386-535 A.D.), which repaired and extended the existing wall to defend against attacks from other tribes. The Bei Qi kingdom (550–577) built or repaired more than 900 miles of wall, and the short-lived but effective Sui dynasty (581–618) repaired and extended the Great Wall of China a number of times.

With the fall of the Sui and the rise of the Tang dynasty (618-907), the Great Wall lost its importance as a fortification, as China had defeated the Tujue tribe to the north and expanded past the original frontier protected by the wall. During the Song dynasty (960-1279), the Chinese were forced to withdraw under threat from the Liao and Jin peoples to the north, who took over many areas on both sides of the Great Wall. The powerful Yuan (Mongol) dynasty (1206-1368) established by Genghis Khan eventually controlled all of China, parts of Asia and sections of Europe. Though the Great Wall held little importance for the Mongols as a military fortification, soldiers were assigned to man the wall in order to protect merchants and caravans traveling along the profitable trade routes established during this period.

Despite its long history, the Great Wall of China as it is exists today was constructed mainly during the mighty Ming dynasty (1368-1644). Like the Mongols, the early Ming rulers had little interest in building border fortifications, and wall building was limited before the late 15th century. In 1421, the Ming emperor Yongle proclaimed China’s new capital, Beijing, on the site of the former Mongol city of Dadu. Under the strong hand of the Ming rulers, Chinese culture flourished, and the period saw an immense amount of construction in addition to the Great Wall, including bridges, temples and pagodas. The construction of the Great Wall as it is known today began around 1474. After an initial phase of territorial expansion, Ming rulers took a largely defensive stance, and their reformation and extension of the Great Wall was key to this strategy.

The Ming wall extended from the Yalu River in Liaoning Province to the eastern bank of the Taolai River in Gansu Province, and winded its way from east to west through today’s Liaoning, Hebei, Tianjin, Beijing, Inner Mongolia, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Ningxia and Gansu.

Starting west of Juyong Pass, the Great Wall was split into south and north lines, respectively named the Inner and Outer Walls. Strategic “passes” (i.e., fortresses) and gates were placed along the wall; the Juyong, Daoma and Zijing passes, closest to Beijing, were named the Three Inner Passes, while further west were Yanmen, Ningwu and Piantou, the Three Outer Passes. All six passes were heavily garrisoned during the Ming period and considered vital to the defense of the capital.

In the mid-17th century, the Manchus from central and southern Manchuria broke through the Great Wall and encroached on Beijing, eventually forcing the fall of the Ming dynasty and beginning of the Qing (Manchu) dynasty (1644-1912). Between the 18th and 20th centuries, the Great Wall emerged as the most common emblem of China for the Western world, and a symbol both physical–a manifestation of Chinese strength–and psychological–a representation of the barrier maintained by the Chinese state to repel foreign influences and exert control over its citizens.

Today, the Great Wall is generally recognized as one of the most impressive architectural feats in history. In 1987, UNESCO designated the Great Wall a World Heritage site, and a popular claim that emerged in the 20th century holds that it is the only manmade structure that is visible from the moon. Over the years, roadways have been cut through the wall in various points, and many sections have deteriorated after centuries of neglect. The best-known section of the Great Wall of China–Badaling, located 43 miles (70 km) northwest of Beijing–was rebuilt in the late 1950s, and attracts thousands of national and foreign tourists every day.

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