My experience of The Great Wall of China went beyond all expectations. In truth, I had given the sight little thought before entering the country as I could not see past the fact that it was, despite its impressive length, nothing more than a wall. The ingenuity behind its construction was something to be admired certainly but how exciting could it be to see just a small segment? As it turns out, very.
We set off from our hostel, alongside a handful of other travellers, at half seven in the morning for the one and a half hour journey to the wall. Once we arrived, a tour guide briefed us on how best to make it to the top. He advised us to take the cable car half way because failing to do so would likely mean us missing out on the free lunch.
We took the cable car.
Once at the top we both realised that this was actually going to involve some pretty serious walking. Looking into the distance we could see an extremely steep and long set of stairs that would have to be climbed in order to progress. It didn't look easy. For Alice it would be harder still because she struggled with heights. Not the best phobia to have when trying to mount The Great Wall.
Nevertheless, it was to be some time before we reached that particular point and so we could allow ourselves to stop, take in and enjoy the sight that lay before us. Despite my presuppositions, it was actually really cool to see the wall wind itself haphazardly along the hillside into the early morning mist and I grew excited to follow it along to its heighest peak.
We eventually made it to the steep set of stairs. It was shorter than it had first appeared and so, putting in all that squat power, I quickly made it to the top. Alice soon followed but decided the heights were a bit much and called it a day. I was still set on making it to the highest peak so I continued onwards.
Panting and sweating, I eventually made it to and joined the rest of the travellers we had journeyed to the wall with. As reconstructed wall turned to authentic wall we found the road to become increasingly difficult to navigate. Broken rubble was beginning to replace stone path and the more we ventured forward, the more we slipped and stumbled on the increasing loose terrain beneath our feet. Though it was becoming incredibly dangerous, I did briefly stop to think that this was also pretty cool. Only three months ago i was staking tins of baked beans at waitrose and now i was hanging odf The Great Wall of China. Pretty surreal when you think about it.
It began to deteriorate to such an extent that, even with the precipice an agonisingly small distance away, we considered stopping and heading back. It was a Frodo and Sam moment. And like them we knew we had come too far to turn back now. This was our Mount Doom and we had to make it. Crawling on my hands and knees up the ashy hill side I felt I did actually quite resemble the two Hobbits in their final moments. I certainly had the feet for it anyway.
After much effort, we overcame our mighty obstacle and stood triumphantly on its rocky peak. However, rather than destroying an all powerful ring and its dark Lord when we reached the top, we just took a few photos.
The descent was equally difficult as we effectively slid down the rubble and so we awarded ourselves with a beer when the authentic wall once again became restored wall. There can't be too many people who can say they have done that. Progress was quick from here and I soon made it back down to Alice and was sitting in the restaurant five minutes ahead of schedule. I'm not one to miss a meal, Scaling the Great Wall of China or not.
Afterlunch there was nothing to do but head home, rest and reflect on a memorable day .It's a hard life being a Hobbit but someone's gotta do it.