Have you ever touched the sky or embraced the heavens? Well, I have, on my recent climb up the Great Wall of China.
Considered one of the greatest construction feats in history, the Great Wall is the longest wall in the world. Built more than 2000 years ago between the 7th century BC and 1664, the beginning of the Qing Dynasty, the wall cuts across eight provinces in Northern China.
This incredible fortification was not just created to protect China from invaders, it was, and still is a symbol of China’s power, culture, and economic prowess. The great stones that created this serpentine path of steep and uneven steps through monumental mountains stands today as a testament and memorial to many who lost their lives as they crafted this symbol of profound influence.
The drive to Badaling, the mountainous region of Beijing, was a glorious hint of what we were about to experience. The vertical rock faces, striped beige, gray, and a slight pink, got more colossal the higher we went. Then when our ears ‘popped’ we knew we were way above sea level. It is said that the section in Badaling is more than 1000 metres above sea level.
Me and my Jamaican posse, Kerry-Ann and Loinel, jumped out of the taxi we took from the train station to the Badaling section of the wall. With a broad smile, the taximan waved goodbye after we paid him 330 RMB, about $52, for the long circuitous mountain ride, making us wonder if indeed we did negotiate a good fare. Yuh haffi bargain inna China, a jus soh it goh. It nevva matta anyway, cause wih did glad fi dehdeh.
The air at this height was so clean and crisp, it was like soaking in one hundred percent pure oxygen. We were giddy!
Of course, we chose a holiday weekend for this climbing adventure, soh it did well crowded. But, a China wih deh an nuff people deh yah, so why not experience the real deal.
Well my dears, unuuh betta be in shape fi tek on dis yah activity. To put it mildly, is a rahtid steep climb just about the whole way up, down, circulah, an kinpuppalick! Because the steps are uneven, some high and some low but mostly high, it is like lunging every step of the way. Mek a tell yuh, we climbed up and down and sideways for more than three hours and nevva buss a sweat! A lie yaah. We eventually fling off the jackets…even though it was relatively chilly on the way up, half way up we were sweating. Well, Loinel was cool though; him a big time runner so im nevva feel it, at least soh im did sey.
We had the most wonderfully invigorating time on China’s Great Wall. And, we made friends too. The Chinese love taking pictures, especially with new found Black farin friends. So, our climb was interrupted for some pickcha tek. We big bout yah yuh nuh. Jamaicans tek over di Great Wall…and we proudly flaunted our nationality! We also connected with several Americans now residing in this culture-filled country.
Not only did we go to the ‘edge’ of the world, coming down was quite interesting. Some areas were so steep it forced us to run while leaning far backwards. But hey, we were up for the challenge. When we finally reached level ground again, our thighs were screaming… a weh di %$%^&… a wah yuh jus duh to me, yuh mad or somting. My gams, abs, and butt are firmer for the experience though…yeah!
Jamaicans really are thrill seekers. The very next day we headed to Beijing’s Summer Palace, the country’s largest royal park which has been named a World Heritage Site. Built in the 18th century, this imperial architectural masterpiece of buildings, pavilions, and beautiful landscape design was home to the Qianlong Emperor of the Qing Dynasty.
With an expanse of almost 3 square kilometres, gardens, and hills that rise to about 60 metres high, we thought, oh this will be easy after yesterday’s wall climb. Yes you guessed it, there were more steps to climb. But it was all worth it as we took in the palace complex, the temples, the towers, the wide pavilions, the curved bridges, the cherry blossoms, the calm, the meditative beauty.