The Great Walk to a wall in China

Trip Start Sep 08, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of China  ,
Saturday, October 2, 2010

When people say they have walked the Great Wall of China I warrant very few have spent so long walking to the Great Wall, and as a result very few will hold in their hearts the same sense of accomplishment and pride that the six of us now possess. I make it six because our guide - 'Tina' - must share some of these emotions although I imagine for her a deep sense of relief is the overriding feeling as she did not have to explain the death of one of her charges to her boss. One thing is for sure; she will never, NEVER, take another group up the same route for as long as she works in the tourist industry. Never again will she listen to their wishes, never again be persuaded to venture into unknown, un-prescribed territories.
There were tears - many tears, gasps of exhaustion, long periods of silence and, at our lowest ebb, a harpsichord rendition from the tinny speakers of Tina's mobile phone of Silent Night.
It took over two and a half hours. Two and a half hours through jungle, on a half-worn path, in wet conditions from the previous night's rain, up 60 degree slopes, scrambling at times on hands and knees, clinging onto tree trunks & tufts of grass, bouldering along cliff faces, decked in Converse & jeans, plimsolls & skirts, and all streaked in mud by the end.
But what an end! A whole stretch of wall - snaking off across ludicrous ridges - to ourselves. An un-reconditioned, unrepaired, unsanitised, original crumbling section of wall, on National Holiday and we are the only ones here. We had succeeded. We had escaped the tourists. We had escaped the places where set photographs were mandatory because these views were off the tourist trail. We had pushed and pushed so that our guide was as far beyond her comfort zone as we were. And through our endeavor we had bonded as a group. We had challenged ourselves and we had gained an experience that we will all carry with us forever.

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