Hello! Today we're heading off to see the Great Wall. Yes, it's an immensely touristy thing to do, but wouldn't you? To be honest, there's something in me that recoils at the thought of being a visible tourist, going to all the sites, snapping photos left and right...
But then again, I'm white. So no matter how hard I try, I'll never blend into the woodwork. I won't be mistaken for Chinese any time soon.
Anyhow, we'll be heading out later this afternoon. I understand that it's about a one hour drive from here (depending on traffic, I imagine). There are two options: one section of the wall has been restored to what it might have looked like when it was new. This section is smothered with tourists. The second option is a length of the Wall that has not been restored. It is crumbling to pieces, and apparently has fewer tourists. (Which option do you think I prefer?)
As you can see from the above picture, the Wall extends across an enormous area - from what is now the border between N. Korea and China, to regions in the western deserts. Also, the Wall is not a continuous "wall", as we often suppose it is. It was built over several dynasties across many centuries, with sections built to the north or the south depending on who was the enemy and where his tents were located at the time. It's hard to imagine that the Wall could be built fast enough to hold in nomadic tribes of pony riding Steppe-dwellers. But then again, that's probably why, ultimately, the Wall failed to protect China.
If only the Han dynasty had unmanned drones to patrol the border.
I'll post photos of our trip in a future entry. But for now... Wo yao he kafei. I think Dustin knows what that means. And for the rest of you, I think kafei is basically pronounced the same in every language.