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Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.        -Mary Schmich




Smile and wave, thumbs up, camera click, wipe the sweat from your brow, no stand this way, closer, closer and camera click again, smile into the lens… perfect!

Look at us on the Great Wall, see how far it goes through the countryside! Wow!

They say you can see this from the moon, or maybe that’s a myth, we’ll google it when we get home.

Yes that’s right, built to keep out the Mongols…or the rabbits ha-oh-ha.

Can you believe that we are here? Let’s buy a t-shirt on the way back down, yes what a great souvenir! What do you think? The one that says “I’ve climbed the great wall!”

Don’t forget, they say never pay the price that they ask, oh no sir, haggle with them to a tenth of the price… that’s what it’s worth after all.

Do you think Grandpa would like one? Of course, let’s buy three.



The climb up was hard, but we had modern convenience on our side. Imagine it is three thousand years ago. Where do you think these rocks were quarried from? Not nearby I’m sure. It’s a marvel, a feat, this structure of protection.

But there is the echo of a throb here, a throb of living-beats that were silenced by this grey and cold blooded snake.

Now we are at the top, feel that under your feet? We are fortunate to be in a place that many dream of visiting, and yes, you and I, we are here.

Place your hand there. Yes, there on this rough hewn rock. It’s not as cold as you expected? Perhaps because it holds an eon of misery. Pain rising and sighing through its stony face and jagged miscoloured mortar. It’s been said that every foot of this wall represents one human life. Can you see how far the wall stretches? Yes, you are right, it stretches beyond sight.

In the earliest dynasty the tyrannical Qin Emporer would send scholars here to work on the wall, as a lonesome, soul-breaking punishment. Yes, it’s hard to imagine how many people would have perished.

And see these spaces in the wall, pretty, steeple shaped spaces, like little windows in a child’s doll house. Well that is where they would have laid their bows, arrows poised. Weapons of death to the marauding nomads. And this space? Yes, you learn quickly, no, not from a dolls house. This space was for pouring burning-missives to assail the enemy.

Why do you think they call this section the wall of the bones? It’s simple really and gruesome too, for if you died up here they simply threw your body over the edge.

And maybe, they hoped, your lifeless, worthless existence would knock an enemy asunder on its perilous way down.

Cruel you say? Yes, cruel it is true, but it was the way of the world back then and now that you sense the immense history you can also marvel at the feat of structure and engineering and planning and endurance. 

And the enormous power that the Emperors wielded, in human life, with the stroke of a calligraphed signature and the stamp of a Royal seal… in the name of defence.


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