China #12 Section 4 – Walk on the Wall (13/09/15)

This Walk on the Wall is About Helping Others to Help Themselves

DSC00563 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00563 © DY of jtdytravels

See that Wall snaking its way up and down and along the ridge; that was the aim of the day’s walk!  And see that tower on the very top of the closet ridge; that’s the bump we could see from the bus stop. It really had been a long climb to get here. And more to come.

The good news was that this part of the Wall has mostly been restored; yes that was good.

BUT… the not so good news was that this section was 10+ kms… the longest walk so far… and on our tired, aching legs it was quite an ask. But conquer it we would!

As you’ll see in these clips, it was not easy.

Clip #35

.

Clip #36

.

DSC00565 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00565 © DY of jtdytravels

The day was clearer and a good deal warmer than the day before but there was an occasional spot that caught a refreshing breeze. It was still hot and sweaty work. We needed a rest.

DSC00569 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00569 © DY of jtdytravels

Suzanne… a long way still to walk but still smiling!

DSC00573 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00573 © DY of jtdytravels

I rested in the shade beneath some red good luck ribbons.

At least I hoped they were good luck ribbons.

We’d walked a long way and so far no one had suffered any real injury.

Everyone was aware of the need to be careful.

DSC00574 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00574 © DY of jtdytravels

Chris… checking each step carefully as he went.

DSC00576 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00576 © DY of jtdytravels

…ever downwards

DSC00577 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00577 © DY of jtdytravels

Tanya… made it down these steps… at last

As we go ‘down along’, we pass others going ‘up along’!

Whichever way. the word ‘long’ is relevant!

DSC00579 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00579 © DY of jtdytravels

Every now and then, there was a short respite from the endless steps.

But these were sloped ramps and I, for one, found them harder going than the steps.

They found out different aching muscles.

I stopped here for a rest and a short ‘Thank you to my sponsors’ clip.

Clip #38

.

DSC00580 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00580 © DY of jtdytravels

We had ordered a ‘Subway’ sandwich for lunch.  These were given to us before we got on the bus back at the hotel – there’s no home delivery on The Wall. We ate our sandwich on top of one of the watchtowers which gave us a marvellous 360º view of the surrounding hills, ridges, valleys and various sections of The Wall. Some lunch spot!

DSC00581 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00581 © DY of jtdytravels

After lunch we walked on and on conquering more towers as we went until, finally, we reached the top station of a cable car. This allowed a short-cut back to the bus park at Mutianyu at the bottom of the very ridge we had walked up at the beginning of the day’s walk. A few of the group took this option. They’d had enough of the wall and opted for a different view.

Jo's photo of David

Jo’s photo of David

The rest of us walked on for some distance to a place where I was able to opt to walk the 1200 steps down to the same car-park where the cable car ended. This turned out to be a delightful walk through the forested side the the valley.

The rest of the group walked for a further 20 minutes to a toboggan run. It was a quick fun way to get to the bottom and it ended at the same car-park. I arrived at the appointed meeting spot, a ‘Subway’ outlet no less, at 15.15 and very quickly got hold of a lovely cold beer. Even at 35 Yuan (AUD9), the most expensive beer I’d had in China to this point, it went down a treat.

It was just a 25 minute bus ride back to the same hotel we’d stayed at the night before… there to be reunited with my lovely washed apple… still sitting where I had left it in the morning. There was just time for a quick, and, dare I say, a much needed shower, before heading out to dinner – another delicious banquet. Photos follow… just to tantalise your taste buds.

DSC00584 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00584 © DY of jtdytravels

A pyramid of finely shredded and fried who knows what!

DSC00585 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00585 © DY of jtdytravels

Diced carrot, peas and corn.

DSC00586 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00586 © DY of jtdytravels

Your guess is as good as mine!

DSC00587 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00587 © DY of jtdytravels

…same here. Who knows… but it was good.

DSC00588 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00588 © DY of jtdytravels

An Asian green like bok choy with added glass noodles

DSC00589 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00589 © DY of jtdytravels

Shoestring zucchini, and carrot.

DSC00590 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00590 © DY of jtdytravels

Really delicious dumplings with dipping sauce.

DSC00591 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00591 © DY of jtdytravels

A lovely dinner… but we couldn’t finish it all.

There was just too much… even though we did our best!

DSC00592 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00592 © DY of jtdytravels

But Richard… just had to have a little more! He’d earned it.

And then it was time to turn in… a fairly early night was needed by all.

We had to be up early for our final day’s assault on the Great Wall of China.

 

David

All Photography Copyright ©  David Young of  jtdytravels

http://www.everydayhero.com.au/event/50kmFor50Years

Click on “Sponsor a Friend” under the photo of the great wall

Type in David to get to my donation page.

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

China #11 Section 4 – A Long Climb up to the Wall (13/09/15)

This Walk on the Wall is About Helping Others to Help Themselves

DSC00528 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00528 © DY of jtdytravels

Our hotel at Huairou.

DSC00529 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00529 © DY of jtdytravels

The bus transferred us to the start of the day’s walk.

DSC00530 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00530 © DY of jtdytravels

The sign said quite clearly ‘This section of the Great Wall is not open to the public”.

I guess we must have been “private”… for walk it we did.

But first there was a long, hard climb just to get up onto the wall.

DSC00531 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00531 © DY of jtdytravels

The walk went up a steep, winding path through a forested area.

Several plants to photograph on the way up.

DSC00532 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00532 © DY of jtdytravels

.

DSC00533 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00533 © DY of jtdytravels

.

DSC00534 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00534 © DY of jtdytravels

We walked through this quaint village on the way up.  There was a road of sorts this far, after which it was just a track to the Wall.  We were aiming for that little bump on the horizon on the right of the picture, almost obscured by power lines in the photo.

DSC00542 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00542 © DY of jtdytravels

Aconitum sp. commonly known as Monkshood

Now, let me digress slightly and tell you something about this plant with its unusually shaped, deep blue flowers. It is a deadly toxic plant. There are several examples in history of the poison from this plant being used to kill animals and people. For example, it’s been used to kill whales and wolves… the latter giving the plant another of its common names, Wolf bane.

But there’s one story that’s relevant to our walk on the Wall. Here in China, in centuries past, when wars were fought with bow and arrow, Aconitum poison was used on arrows… and not just on the tips. A paste made from the plant was smeared along both the points and the shaft of the arrows… presumably very carefully with something to keep the paste from the hands of the soldiers! Then, it was hoped, that anyone in the opposing army who attempted to remove an arrow from a wounded ‘mate’, would also be poisoned and die in agony. Is that maybe the ultimate for the saying “two for the price of one’!

DSC00544 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00544 © DY of jtdytravels

Light through the petals of Aconitum buds.

Because of the lovely blue flowers, Aconitum is often used in formal garden beds especially in Europe. It was a long held belief, that only the roots are poisonous. But it’s been proven that all of the plant is toxic and the plant should be handled with care. As recently as November 2014, an inquest into the death of a gardener in England found that he had died from multiple organ failure after handling Aconitum plants without protection. Apparently, the toxin can enter the body through broken skin. Even if it doesn’t kill, it can make you pretty sick.

So the moral of the story is, learn about the plants you propose to plant in your garden. There are many, like daffodils and daphne, that are toxic to some level but not deadly unless eaten.

DSC00552 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00552 © DY of jtdytravels

Being autumn, there were various examples of fungi to find. What a beauty this is. BUT, this is another type of plant that can be toxic. Know your mushrooms before you touch or eat!

DSC00556 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00556 © DY of jtdytravels

Another fascinating fungi… very ‘architectural’.

Look but don’t touch.

While I was searching for plants to photograph, some of the group were still making their way up the long, winding, steep, difficult climb. This small clip will show you what I mean.

Clip #34

.

DSC00551 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00551 © DY of jtdytravels

A rest stop in the shade was much needed before we actually got to the Wall.

DSC00557 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00557 © DY of jtdytravels

The view from the rest stop was rather awe inspiring.

DSC00554 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00554 © DY of jtdytravels

And so say all of us. (Note the bhpbilliton involvement!)

This area is just too special to spoil in any way at all.

DSC00558 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00558 © DY of jtdytravels

And this was the view that greeted us when we got up onto the actual Wall.

‘Twas a bit daunting after that hike just to get to the start point.

But now it was time to conquer this stretch of wall.

More of that anon.

David

All Photography Copyright ©  David Young of jtdytravels

http://www.everydayhero.com.au/event/50kmFor50Years

Click on “Sponsor a Friend” under the photo of the great wall

Type in David to get to my donation page.

.

.

.

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

China #10 Section 3 – Walk on the Wall (12/09/15)

This Walk on the Wall is About Helping Others to Help Themselves

I was up a bit before 06.00 on the morning of the third day of our Walk on the Wall. The sky was bright, and cloudless, but the sun hadn’t as yet risen. By the time I’d showered the sun was hitting a tower of The Wall that I could see from my room. All looked good for a wonderful day hiking along the section of the Wall known as Jinshanling.

How was I feeling after the past two days on the Wall? Well…I had some lactic acid to give away! Thighs in particular were quite stiff. Oh, what I wouldn’t have given for a good massage. And on this next section, Hero warned us, there were even more steps. Surely there couldn’t be! However, the good news… this part of the Wall is mostly restored. Not all, but most.

Breakfast was a bit different…  a “Chinese” breakfast. I think someone asked for it and good on them because we all ended up trying something most of us, if not all, won’t do again! So what did we have? Pickled who-knows-what (other than they were of three different kinds of plant material), a watery soup, cucumber, some oily pancakes, scone-sized puffy things that were made from the same stuff that steamed buns are made of, and a boiled egg or two.

And what did we think of that combination? Most of us left breakfast a little disappointed and still a tad hungry. Maybe we would walk better on some toast and Vegemite!

DSC00484 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00484 © DY of jtdytravels

At the start of this day’s walk there was an impressive bas relief.

It depicted life on the Wall in days long gone by.

DSC00486 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00486 © DY of jtdytravels

The Great Wall at Jinshanling was initially built from 1368 to 1389 and then rebuilt from 1567 and 1570 under the direction of the great General Qi Jiguang (1528–1588)… whose story I’ve told on the post for day one of the walk. So, yes, it is old.

DSC00490 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00490 © DY of jtdytravels

Just before we started the day’s walk, I bought a bottle of beer.  My son Peter had suggested that Chris, Julie and myself (all supported by Peter) should have a beer on the Great Wall. So, we did, quite early on in the morning, too.  I had no intention of carrying that bottle any further than I had to. I’d even remembered to put my bottle opener in my backpack and three glasses (plastic unfortunately). But having that beer was good fun.

DSC00492 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00492 © DY of jtdytravels

Taking the photos early on in the day was a doubly good idea as the air was still brilliantly clear. Cheers Pete! And thanks for your support.. and thanks to everyone else who supported our efforts to raise money for more Shaping Futures Scholarships at UoN.

DSC00495 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00495 © DY of jtdytravels

Julie and Chris checked their photos… all good… no retakes required.

DSC00498 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00498 © DY of jtdytravels

Beer drunk; time to get on with the day’s walk.

The challenge … 22 towers/beacons and 8km (5mi.) ahead of us.

DSC00494 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00494 © DY of jtdytravels

Not a lot of chance to stop for flower photography … but…

I couldn’t resist the beautiful light through the petals of this Convolvulus sp.

Most of you will know this flower as Morning Glory.

DSC00499 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00499 © DY of jtdytravels

Signs like these cropped up every now and then along the wall…

We were all very mindful of minding our steps!

DSC00500 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00500 © DY of jtdytravels

Crossing… not sure where. Graffiti… Certainly not!

DSC00501 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00501 © DY of jtdytravels

We plodded on, strung out like the proverbial Brown’s cows…

each one walking at their own pace.

DSC00503 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00503 © DY of jtdytravels

Although this day’s walk took us over mostly restored Wall, I found parts particularly difficult. There were quite long stretches of steeply sloping ramp which I found much harder to handle than steps, no matter how shallow, deep or irregular the steps were. There were also some very steep, long step sections. I don’t think photos, or even video, really show it as it is.

DSC00504 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00504 © DY of jtdytravels

Maybe this photo gives a better idea of the steepness. It was really hard work.

DSC00505 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00505 © DY of jtdytravels

According to the different terrain, the watchtowers were built in different shapes: some tall, some low;  some rectangular, some square; most with three to five ‘windows’.

DSC00508 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00508 © DY of jtdytravels

The Wall at Jinshanling has retained its original look since its construction several hundred years ago. It is relatively isolated and offers great views whichever way you look.

DSC00509 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00509 © DY of jtdytravels

Because this section of the Wall is a lot more accessible from Beijing than the earlier sections we’d walked, we encountered more people sharing the experience… even a smattering of Aussies along with other foreigners. ‘Twas strange to have to share the Wall.

DSC00510 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00510 © DY of jtdytravels

All signs were in Chinese and English with a graphic as well.

A fairly clear message, I would say,

DSC00513 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00513 © DY of jtdytravels

But … he’s a local and I guess old habits die hard.

DSC00512 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00512 © DY of jtdytravels

He was a drink seller… a long day, just sitting, hoping to make a sale.

DSC00514 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00514 © DY of jtdytravels

Some of the towers definitely made a dramatic statement.

DSC00515 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00515 © DY of jtdytravels

Looking back along the seemingly endless zig-zag of the Wall, we could all be very proud of our day’s effort.  But, when we finally finished our section of the Wall for the day, we were a little dismayed to find that it was still a long walk down to the bus park. On the way down, a hen pheasant ran across my path. I’ve spent a lot of time in the Himalaya and China but I’d never managed to see a pheasant in the wild before. So this was a bit special.

All we weary walkers climbed thankfully on board the bus at about 12.30. It was then just a 10 minute ride to the lunch stop, a family run business where all the food served was prepared from home grown organic produce. We had nine courses plus rice. Some of the courses were cauliflower and Spanish onion, an eggplant dish that was really good, some noodles etc. We had well and truly earned that meal and it was eaten with great relish.

DSC00518 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00518 © DY of jtdytravels

From there it was a two hour drive in the bus to our hotel for the night, in a city called Huairou. It’s on the outskirts of Beijing. Did I say outskirts? The centre of Beijing was, in actual fact, still 90 km away! Beijing is really BIG.

DSC00519 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00519 © DY of jtdytravels

The food looked good! Was good!  It was frog!  From memory the red are tomatoes and capsicum, the green: celery and the green berries on top are Sichuan peppers.

DSC00520 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00520 © DY of jtdytravels

Dinner time was a happy occasion after such a hard day’s walk on the Wall.

More anon

David

All Photography Copyright ©  David Young of  jtdytravels

http://www.everydayhero.com.au/event/50kmFor50Years

Click on “Sponsor a Friend” under the photo of the great wall

Type in David to get to my donation page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

 

.

.

 

 

 

 

 

China #9 An Evening Craft Lesson (11/09/15 Part c)

After dinner we had the opportunity of visiting a Master Paper Cutter, who had a studio just across the road from our lodgings.  Although tired, it was an opportunity not to be missed, particularly as we were going to get an out-of-hours demonstration.

Paper cutting is a craft that can be dated back to the 6th Century. I’d heard that, usually, professional paper cutters are males. So, I imagined the Master was going to be an old man with perhaps a long drooping, but wispy, grey moustache.

DSC00466 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00466 © DY of jtdytravels

But, not so on this occasion. A middle-aged lady turned up shortly after we arrived.  She is a Master cutter, following a long tradition of this handcraft by women. In the past, rural girls were expected to master this craft, and brides were often judged by their skills.

DSC00466 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00466 © DY of jtdytravels

This Master set about showing us her skills, first folding the paper together.

She was quite a show woman!

DSC00470 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00470 © DY of jtdytravels

After folding the paper, she started cutting it with a pair of very fine-nosed and sharp scissors. In no time at all she was unfolding the cut paper to reveal, not one but two, intricately detailed and different coloured butterflies.  She’d tricked us by working with a piece of blue and a piece of green paper folded together.  Her dexterity was amazing.

DSC00471 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00471 © DY of jtdytravels

Some more of her multi-coloured work.

DSC00473 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00473 © DY of jtdytravels

It was then our turn to see what kind of a mess we could make

with a pair of scissors and a piece of paper.

DSC00472 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00472 © DY of jtdytravels

And the result is…

I got an MBE for this; My Bloody Effort!

DSC00474 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00474 © DY of jtdytravels

She is certainly a Master of her craft!

DSC00479 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00479 © DY of jtdytravels

Another of her intricate, delicate Paper Cuts. Truly amazing work.

DSC00477 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00477 © DY of jtdytravels

Close up a larger piece… depiction of a regal male.

DSC00476 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00476 © DY of jtdytravels

Detail of the head gear of the Paper Cut above.

DSC00477 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00477 © DY of jtdytravels

And the full Paper Cut together with another work of art.

It is said to be easy to learn to make paper cuttings. However, to master the art takes much practice, great skill and exceptional imagination… and patience. We were very pleased that we had experienced this demonstration. Now, finally, we could go to bed and rest our weary bodies in preparation for another day walking up and down on the Great Wall.

More anon

David

All photography copyright  ©  David Young  of  jtdytravels

Our other travel story and photo site is

www.jtdytravels.com

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

China #8 Section 2 – Walk on the Wall (11/09/15 Part b)

This Walk on the Wall is About Helping Others to Help Themselves

On and on and on went the wall. On and on we plodded. But all in a very good cause. At some of our rest stops we reminded ourselves just why we were doing this; why we were putting up with aching legs and other muscles that were finding us out. We were doing it to help others who are doing it tough in other ways in their daily lives… every day… and without the views.

DSC00425 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00425 © DY of jtdytravels

And as I stood in this crumbling ruin, I remembered so many others who did it tough…

the men who built the wall in the first place all those centuries ago;

the soldiers who lived in these towers to guard their country from invaders.

I was here in this magnificent landscape for but a brief time.

No wonder I could smile.

DSC00430 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00430 © DY of jtdytravels

And it was not only the construction of the wall that I found amazing.

 So too, were the many small things I found.

Just look at the incredible construction of this caterpillar

DSC00432 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00432 © DY of jtdytravels

…and the way this flower is formed… delicate but intricate.

DSC00435 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00435 © DY of jtdytravels

…and another quite stunning caterpillar… just don’t touch!

DSC00437 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00437 © DY of jtdytravel

…and here’s a piece of architectural and engineering ingenuity displayed in a caterpillar!

Tiny but quite wonderful.

DSC00436 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00436 © DY of jtdytravels

When you think about how pines conserve water with those needle like leaves

and hold their seeds in cones until just the right moment

Nature is very inventive, isn’t it?

DSC00438 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00438 © DY of jtdytravels

I think these are Sedum sp.

DSC00439 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00439 © DY of jtdytravels

.

DSC00440 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00440 © DY of jtdytravels

.

DSC00442 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00442 © DY of jtdytravels

.

DSC00446 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00446 © DY of jtdytravels

Looking up and out again… the Wall does seem endless.

DSC00450 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00450 © DY of jtdytravels

Just the floor of a second story watch-tower, the rest had disappeared over the Centuries.

But, it still provided an elevated platform for a better view.

DSC00451 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00451 © DY of jtdytravels

Great care was needed on some parts of the path… like this piece…

a steep drop off awaited anyone who slipped.

DSC00453 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00453 © DY of jtdytravels

The distance between towers was not far on this stretch of the wall.

DSC00454 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00454 © DY of jtdytravels

Iris sp.

DSC00455 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00455 © DY of jtdytravels

A view to the side. No Wall in sight.

DSC00456 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00456 © DY of jtdytravels

The distance between towers might be shorter but the steps seem to get steeper.

And those steps are not restored. Difficult going here.

DSC00460 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00460 © DY of jtdytravels

At times the wall branches. Which way to our bed for the night?

We’re getting weary. It’s been a long, hard day.

I’m so pleased that I put in the months of training to be fit for the task!

DSC00461 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00461 © DY of jtdytravels

More steep steps. But we were almost there… or so we were told.

DSC00463 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00463 © DY of jtdytravels

And at last, our end point for the day…with a rather magnificent statue to greet us.

End of day two of the walk… only three days to go!

Does anyone want my spare lactic acid?

David

All Photography Copyright ©  David Young of jtdytravels

http://www.everydayhero.com.au/event/50kmFor50Years

our other travel sites

www.jtdytravels.com

flickr.com/photos/jtdytravels

.

 

 

 

 

 

China #7 Section 2 Walk on the Wall (11/09/15 Part a)

This Walk on the Wall is About Helping Others to Help Themselves

http://www.everydayhero.com.au/event/50kmFor50Years

The goal for the second day on our Great Wall Walk was to conquer the Simatai section of wall which is 5.4 km. (3.5 mi.) long. That’s not so far, I hear you say! But this section contains 34 beacon towers and that suggests a lot of ups and downs between towers, does it not?  And so it proved to be. This part of the wall is divided into two parts – the somewhat gentler western section with 18 well-preserved towers – and the eastern, much steeper section, with 16 more crumbly towers. I have also divided my musings for the day into two sections – part a and part b!

To tackle the day, we needed a good breakfast. Annie knew what she needed; she’d supplied it for herself. Vegemite! That black goo that many Australians are fond of. But… how do you spread Vegemite on toast when there’s not a knife in sight? Watch the clip.

Clip #10

.

DSC00378 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00378 © DY of jtdytravels

We’d spent the night at the 300 bed ‘Hyangya Mountain Villa Guesthouse’ a ‘designated place’ to stay for foreigners and Chinese alike. 120 km from Beijing, it’s located near the city of Tianjin in ‘the Eight Diagrams city of the Great Wall scenic spot.’ The hotel is described as being a “typical quadrangle courtyard with opening character, which can ease your business tension, relax and enjoy your tourist life.” Why bother writing my own description!

DSC00381 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00381 © DY of jtdytravels

T’was time to begin our day’s walk.

I looked back along a hotel path bedecked with garden flowers

and hoped that I would find wildflowers in those mountains beyond the hotel.

DSC00379 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00379 © DY of jtdytravels

As we left this rather imposing entrance to the guesthouse,

we knew that we were leaving behind any vestige of comfort for the rest of the day.

 

DSC00388 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00388 © DY of jtdytravels

The first task of the day was to hike up the hill to get to the Wall.

Clip #11

.

DSC00389 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00389 © DY of jtdytravels

This section of the Wall is denoted as the gentler section across rolling hills.

It is NOT restored and at times is little more than a rough path.

Clip #12

.

 

DSC00392 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00392 © DY of jtdytravels

That’s me decked out in my UoN Great Wall Walk T shirt. Fetching, isn’t it?

And yes, I had just walked down that path, sometimes 30 cm wide with a drop off.

More like mountain goat country than our usual notion of the Great Wall of China.

DSC00393 DY of jtdytravels

DSC00393 DY of jtdytravels

A quick rest, some water and a photo op. at one of the towers.

It was overcast and very humid.

DSC00396 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00396 © DY of jtdytravels

The view ahead… more towers; more ups and downs; more rough paths.

This was not going to be a walk in the park on a Sunday afternoon.

DSC00397 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00397 © DY of jtdytravels

But for the horticulturist in me, there were many delightful compensations.

How could I not stop to enjoy Campanula; blue bells… with dew drops?

DSC00401 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00401 © DY of jtdytravels

As you’ll find in these musings, there was a wide variety of plants to enjoy.

I think this is a Sedum sp.

DSC00402 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00402 © DY of jtdytravels

 Berries of a Berberis sp.

Red is one colour that’s often hard to get right in a photo, especially a shiny red.

My new Sony (HX90V) captured these red berries just right.

DSC00403 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00403 © DY of jtdytravels

The team plodded onwards and upwards to the next ridge.

DSC00404 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00404 © DY of jtdytravels

Another delightful bloom belonging to the ‘pea’ family.

DSC00405 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00405 © DY of jtdytravels

Four Chinese guides accompanied us on the walk.

Not another soul to be seen. We were on our own on the Great Wall of China!

DSC00406 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00406 © DY of jtdytravels

How could a pollinator ignore this flower’s ‘guiding runway’?

Nature is quite wonderful, if we take time to look at the detail in the small things

as well as the grandeur of the wider view.

DSC00407 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00407 © DY of jtdytravels

It’s been said that “The Great Wall is the best of Chinese buildings, and that the Simatai section of the Wall is the best of the Great Wall.” It certainly provided amazing views.

DSC00408 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00408 © DY of jtdytravels

Dianthus sp.

DSC00409 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00409 © DY of jtdytravels

Another ‘pea’ flower.

DSC00410 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00410 © DY of jtdytravels

As usual, the humble daisy is represented amongst the wildflowers here.

How perfect is this flower?

DSC00411 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00411 © DY of jtdytravels

This plant is unknown to me. If you know it, please let me know.

DSC00412 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00412 © DY of jtdytravels

Another plant unknown to me.

DSC00415 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00415 © DY of jtdytravels

The delicate blue bells of a Campanula sp. enhance an already magnificent view.

I’m looking back at the tower we had come through earlier (photo 407).

.

DSC00416 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00416 © DY of jtdytravels

Aconitum sp. known commonly as Monkshood.

DSC00421 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00421 © DY of jtdytravels

Daisies inevitably attract bees.

DSC00422 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00422 © DY of jtdytravels

Another climb; more unstable, crumbly path; another tower.

But what a view from the top!

 

DSC00424 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00424 © DY of jtdytravels

From here, we were about head into the steeper section of the day’s walk.

More of that anon.

David

All photography Copyright © David Young of jtdytravels

http://www.everydayhero.com.au/event/50kmFor50Years

Link to our target charity: “Shaping Futures” for UoN students in need

 

 

China #6 Section 1 Walk on the Wall (10/09/2015)

This Walk on the Wall is About Helping Others to Help Themselves

http://www.everydayhero.com.au/event/50kmFor50Years

By now our team of seventeen had learned each other’s names, seen a little of Beijing and rested after the long flight from Australia. But the time had come to begin the task of testing ourselves on a tough five day walk along the Great Wall of China in our bid to raise funds to help students who are doing it tough in life while they study for their degree. 

So let the walk begin.

Entrance Sign DSC00364 © DY of jtdytravels

Entrance Sign DSC00364 © DY of jtdytravels

The Great Wall of China is 21,196 km in length. Yes! Twenty-one thousand one hundred and ninety-six kilometres (21,196km; or 13,170mi). That’s the precise total length of the Great Wall, the whole of which was included as a World Heritage Site in 1987. But, yes, you’re right. We weren’t going to attempt to walk all of that! In fact, this trek would cover approximately 50 km of the Wall. And then there were more kilometres to be walked up and down hills just to get onto and off the wall each day. We’d been warned that the parts of the Wall that we were to walk are not for the faint hearted; constant ups and downs; many, many steps of varying sizes and steepness of incline. Some restored parts; others parts we would find to be very rough.

We began our walk at the Taipingzhai Gate, part of the ‘Huangyaguan Great Wall’, located in a scenic but precipitous mountain area 120km from Beijing. This section of the Wall is 42 km (26 miles) long; constructed along a mountain ridge at an altitude of about 736 m (2,415 ft). It’s part of, but really just a fraction of, the 8,850 km (5,500 mi) of the wall that was built during the Ming dynasty(1368–1644). Everything about the wall is BIG.

DSC00368 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00368 © DY of jtdytravels

The very first set of steps tested our fitness. I, for one, was glad that I had trained hard.

Until 1987, much of the wall here was in a bad state of repair. However, from 1984 – 1987, the people of the nearby city of Tianjin repaired just over 3 km of the main wall. This was the section of the wall we traversed for this first day of our wall trek. This was to ‘break us into’ wall walking. It’s one thing to train on tracks and on roads, but these are steep steps!

DSC00366 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00366 © DY of jtdytravels

Scott celebrates making it to the watch tower at the top of the first set of steps.

This section of the Wall was begun during the Northern Qi Dynasty (550 – 557), that’s over 1,400 years ago.  In those days the wall was mainly built from locally sourced earth, stones and wood.  Such a wall could withstand attack by simple weapons like swords, spears and bows. However, over the years, warfare changed and by the time of the Ming Dynasty, (1368- 1644), gunpowder had become available. From then on methods of warfare changed radically. Soldiers began to use cannons and muskets. It became more and more obvious that a much more solid wall was needed.

DSC00361 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00361 © DY of jtdytravels

Statue of Qi Jiguang

In 1558, the chief commanding officer of the area’s garrison, Qi Jiguang, was charged with the task of repairing the wall with stone and bricks. He had six extra watch towers built which vary in style from square to round, and from solid to hollow; some inside the wall, others outside. The work was done by manual labour and many lives were lost.

Despite the loss of life and the extremely hard work in this difficult terrain, the local people felt so indebted to Commander Qi Jiguang for his great contribution to the peace and stability of the area, that they honoured him with an impressive statue.  I believe that this 8.5m statue is a newer statue placed at the start of this section of the wall, maybe at the completion of the reconstruction in the 1980s.

Qi Jiguang was revered not just a wall builder. In 1553, at the age of 26, before he started the wall reconstruction, he was given the task to “punish the bandits and guard the people”. In effect that meant taking on the “Japanese” pirates which were attacking China’s east coast. This part of the wall is not far from the coast.  A Biography of Qi Jiguang states that:

“When he started, the tide was against him for the local troops were inadequately manned, poorly trained and easily bested by the trained and armed pirates… (But) Qi lead his troops to victories even in situations where he was outnumbered. In the next ten years he kept the pressure up agains the pirates… He (eventually) defeated forces that had earlier decimated Chinese fighters by developing four innovations: he upgraded his equipment; began vigorous and organized troop training; strengthened his defensive tactics and trained for organized and concentrated manuevers.”

(http://www.plumpub.com/info/Bios/bio qijiguang.htm)

Apparently, Qi’s wife assisted in some of those manoeuvres! Her story is part of the book “Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Women: Tang Through Ming, 618 – 1644” by Lily Xiao Hong Lee, Sue Wiles and M.E. Sharpe published in English in March 2014 (Amazon)

DSC00370 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00370 © DY of jtdytravels

Not all the remade sections were restored to the same degree. A bit tricky.

DSC00372 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00372 © DY of jtdytravels

” Stop and catch your breath” moments gave us time to enjoy the scenery.

DSC00369 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00369 © DY of jtdytravels

And, as usual, I was on the lookout for flowering plants.

DSC00373 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00373 © DY of jtdytravels

We were promised that this section was much easier than the rougher sections we would come to later in the week. But it was still not ‘a walk in the park’! It was still very much up and down hundreds of steps, following the ridge line. We were learning first hand that a trek on the Wall is not for the unfit or for the fainthearted! And this was just the first day.

DSC00374 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00374 © DY of jtdytravels

Signs along the way exhorted us to be careful and not to climb on the wall.

DSC00375 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00375 © DY of jtdytravels

It was strange to find ourselves walking on this historic Wall on our own.

We’d thankfully left the tourist hordes behind in Beijing.

And that was good… very good.

.

DSC00376 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00376 © DY of jtdytravels

By the time this photo was taken it was 19:33.

Almost time to get off the wall and climb down to the waiting bus.

It would be good to find a feed and a bed for the night.

More anon.

David

This Walk on the Wall is About Helping Others to Help Themselves

Thank you to all those who have already made a donation.

If you would like to help us to help others, our thanks to you also.

http://www.everydayhero.com.au/event/50kmFor50Years

{Click on “Sponsor a Friend” under the photo of the great wall

NB: Type in David to get to my donation page.}

If you would like to send this website on to others, please do so.

www.dymusings.com

All photographs copyright © David Young  of  jtdytravels

.