Climbing the Wall: We Are Heroes Now

Today, we became heroes – at least according to Chairman Mao. “You are not a hero until you climb The Great Wall.” So we did. We took the left side of the wall at Badaling this time. In 2001 we took the right side. Guess what? The left side is shorter, but steeper, so we are considering ourselves superheroes.

Alison has been anticipating her Great Wall climb for years and she discovered today that, yes, you actually CLIMB up – and then back down. The incline in certain areas on the way up was so steep that we could almost touch the ground with our arms. We made it up, along with Bob, our new friend who is 65 years old and is the real superhero. He didn’t have to make the climb. The rest of his family didn’t do it. But he was determined. After congratulating ourselves, we snapped a few photos and headed back down. About halfway to the bottom, one set of stairs reminded me of a recurring nightmare where I am forced to navigate down straight down an impossibly steep staircase that has emerged from nowhere. In my dream, I always chicken out and mercifully wake up. At The Great Wall, I climbed down that impossibly steep staircase and felt victorious.

Badaling was the first section of The Great Wall opened to the public, and so it has remained one of the most popular tourist attractions. It was crowded with all ages, dressed in every form of footwear – high heels to high-top Nikes. It was hot, but not humid – a perfect day for climbing. Alison made it to the top after so many years of hearing about it. I think she felt she had missed out on the best parts of China in 2001. We are changing that on this trip.

I’m still trying to find the Facebook workaround. Hopefully I can circumvent whatever Chinese block there is. If I’m successful, I’ll really be a superhero.

Until tomorrow, goodnight from Beijing.

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