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A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

Great Wall of China

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Does everyone have a list, 
written or unwritten, 
of all the things they want to do and/or to see 
in their lifetimes? 

The Great Wall of China 
has been part of my dreams 
for as long as I can remember. 

For all of my life it had been a distant dream in my mind. 
One of those dreams that remained vague, without a real plan to achieve. 
Just always ..."one day" glimmered in my mind for a brief few minutes ... 
then back to reality ...  
everyday going to work, paying bills, 
and taking much smaller, less expensive trips. 

But, on June 23, 2013, 
I saw The Great Wall of China, Mutianyu Section in person. 
My first glimpse of The Wall was from the parking lot 
far below The Wall, far below the entrance to the site, 
and far below the loading platform for the cable cars in the photo. 

Two options for reaching The Wall high up on the mountain tops.

Option One:  A 30-minute (for teenagers, longer for mature women), 
uphill all the way, HIKE!

Option Two: A 5- to 10-minute hike uphill to the ticket entrance, 
then to a cable car platform 
for a 5-minute cable car ride to the top. 
Which one you ask did I choose? 
Hmmm...the cable car photo is a clue.

More than 3000 miles long and built off and on from about 220 B.C. 
to the mid-1700s, much of The Wall as it is today was restored and rebuilt 
in the mid-1600s to the mid-1700s.
 The Mutianyu section was completed before the mid-1600s 
and was most recently restored in the early 1980s. 

Dressed as Genghis Khan, he is a reminder that The Wall was built 
to deter invaders from the north. 

The Mutianyu section has 23 gates or guard towers and is located about 
two hours from Beijing, China. 
Two other sections are closer to Beijing which means fewer 
tourists visit this section. 
The cable car platform at the top is near Gate 14. 

I touched The Great Wall with both my hands and 
walked up and down it marveling at the awesomeness of THE WALL. 

There were other visitors that day, 
but frequently there were periods when no one else 
was in view nearby.

Leaning out the openings, I gazed silently for long minutes at other gates 
and long sections of the wall, pondering its beauty, endurance, 
and significance to both the Chinese and the rest of the world.

Look at that WALL, that GATE, and
 that beautiful BLUE SKY on the day my tour group was at The Wall. 
Our guide said the group he escorted the week before had 
rainy, horrible weather in which the Wall was fogged in. 
Those tourists could barely see the Wall in front of them. 

Oh, how fortunate that I was able to see The Wall 
of my dreams! 

Look really, really hard at the photo above.  
There are two teeny, tiny 'gates' on the mountain ridge 
in the distance.  See them on either side of the large gate in the foreground? 

Up and down mountain ridges for as far as the eye could see, 
we could see The Wall atop mountain ridge after mountain ridge. 
I knew it stretched for thousands of miles, but never 
realized how much of it is visible to the naked eye 
all at one time. 

The Great Wall of China completes the unwritten list 
from my youth of places to visit. 

As I stare at this photo, I am instantly back on The Wall 
in that moment marveling at the unbelievable grandeur 
and the unbelievable reality that I was really there, 
on The Great Wall of China.
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