“You are not a Great man until you climb the Great Wall”

According to Chairman Mao that is. It is nice to know that I fit Mao’s definition of Greatness then.

Yes I climbed the Great Wall of China today. I booked a place on a small tour of a deserted stretch of the wall that had been abandoned and overgrown. It was a tricky walk at times but there were none of the crowds of people and fast food outlets that plague the more popular areas of the wall. It was a misty day and the walk up the mountain was wearisome but doable – I think my lungs have taken a battering from the Beijing smog cloud beforehand though. The most surreal part of the adventure was when our small tour group climbed up to a seemingly abandoned watch tower only to find a very small shop inside. We were miles from anywhere remotely touristy but the man in the little watchtower stood there every day for three years in order to sell T-Shirts to the handfuls of tourists passing through.

Our guide was a small man who spoke no english whose sole job seemed to be making sure that no-one fell off the wall. It is hard to get lost in a linear space so he seemed content to amble along behind the tour group chainsmoking and smiling to himself. He seemed to have a good life.

One thought on ““You are not a Great man until you climb the Great Wall”

  1. Your guide is clearly a great man – as he has obviously climbed the Great Wall many times with his charges – and he gets paid for a "non-job". The T-shirt seller is probably also considered to be great. The East is certainly a long way from the West in terms of the way it thinks about things….

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