Today I had the amazing opportunity to visit the Great Wall of China in Badaling, which is about 90 minutes by car from Beijing. This portion of the wall, and most of what still exists was built by the Ming Dynasty, which rules China from 1368 to 1644.
I've seen pictures of the wall, and have seen it on TV, but until you actually see it you cannot imagine what an amazing effort that is must have been to build. At almost 4000 miles long it is almost incomprehensible how much work must have gone into it. What is even more amazing is that the wall is built in the mountains...I'm not talking hills here, but full fledged mountains. In fact, the terrain is so steep in places, that walking up the wall is, itself, a very difficult task.
My hosts and I traversed up several hundred yards from the entry point before we had to give in. Not only was I incredibly short of breath, it was exceedingly cold, about 25 degrees. I'm sorry that I couldn't make it to another couple of watchtowers, as that would have earned my 'HERO' status. Common belief in China is that if you walk the wall you are a hero.
Hero or not, I'm just so grateful to have had this amazing experience.