Imagine this highly developed complex (complete with Subway and McDonalds) as an empty field. Some farmers are digging a well when they come up with pieces of pottery—bits of the thousands of terra cotta warriors buried here more than 2000 years ago to serve their emperor in the afterlife.
The scale is vast.
The individualization is mind-boggling.
Makes me think of Ezekiel’s valley of dry bones, standing up as a very great army.
The back part of building one is workshops where they are assembling what they have dug up.
It takes about 3 years for each soldier. Our guide comes here about 3 times per week. He has been slowly watching #24 come together.
The warriors originally stood in phalanxes with walls between. They were roofed over with logs covered with woven mats and then dirt. You can see the remains of mats and logs here.
It’s almost like seeing a bunch of dead bodies emerging from the earth.
This archer has one of the most famous faces in the world. And to think that he lived 2200 years ago.
Some of the color remains on his back although the original blue faded within a few minutes of being exposed to the air.
The government has decided to forego excavating much of the area until technology catches up with problems like the oxidation of the colors. There is a tomb that they know from x-ray scans has a recreated world inside with rivers and mountains, but they can’t open it at this point because the rivers are made of mercury—which must have killed those who made it. Our guide told us more than once to tell all the archeologists we knew to come and help. We thought constantly of our Katie and her love of jigsaw puzzles. Maybe someday...
Internet from China is not what we are used to. I cannot get on my usual Google-run travel site, but I wanted you to see pictures of our most fabulous day on the Great Wall of China. I will clean this up and get it on Wide-eyed Wanderer when I get back, but in the meantime....
First item on the agenda was a brief stop at the Olympic Village. The “Bird’s Nest” was the site of the fabulous opening and closing ceremonies. And the plaza seems endless.
Second stop was a jade factory and sales facility. Gorgeous stuff, but even the things on the clearance table were out of our budget. Actually, what drew me most was the silk embroidered paintings that cost in the tens of thousands of dollars. Didn’t buy.
Lisa, the woman who showed us around, talked a lot about the Chinese concept of luck, especially in regard to the money dragon (of which they had a lot of examples) that people place facing the door to draw money in. The dragon has no anus, so nothing comes out. (Sounded like a greedy capitalist to me, but she said it with a positive tone.) John had talked about the flag with the star (five-points representing control of water, fire, earth, air and metal located in the most propitious NW corner, the smaller stars representing the Chinese people) and the ring road being 98.5 km long rather than 99 km which would have been a number connected with the emperor and indicating “long”. They both talked about these things as if they are current thinking, not historic ideas. When I asked Lisa, “So do modern Chinese actually believe these things?” her face grew very still as if daring me to challenge her. “Yes.”
“I would have thought that after so many years of Communism…”
“But Chinese culture is much older.”
So it seems that, like in Africa, the Chinese are not really materialists.
Third stop. The DingLing Tomb of a Ming Dynasty emperor. This tomb has an underground palace discovered in 1958 beneath the funerary temples. Cool and damp smelling. No elevator. Mom could not have done it.
I was glad our guide suggested inverting the itinerary since our last stop would have made all of these fascinating stops anti-climactic. Lunch was Subway, and there in the background at the top of the mountain is our goal—the Great Wall.
We had planned to walk, but Steve took one look and decided to take the cable car. I wasn’t anxious to give up the challenge, so we split up. Part way up the steps I was wondering if I had made a mistake. I never saw anyone headed my direction. The only people I saw on top anywhere near my age had taken the cable car, looked around and went back down, so I felt like a real Korea granny.
There were landings every thirty steps or so. I gave myself permission to stop at every single one. About half way up I came to a refreshment stand and this little pavilion.
A bit farther up, I could see large stones through the trees. “That’s the Great Wall of China,” I told myself. Talk about motivation! Eventually, the path came along the outside and reached Gatehouse 10. It took about half and hour.
Steve and I did meet up!
He had walked down from gatehouse 15. No way did he want to turn around and walk back up! So he gave me his return ticket and took my stairway back down. The stairway I had climbed was all even, modern steps in excellent condition. The wall route was part steps, part ramp, and some of those steps were twice normal height. I was glad to be going up, not down.
The guardhouses were cool and breezy. People sat in windows or just in the shadow and felt the air move. There were also great photo points.
The wall follows the ridgeline. Beyond Gatehouse 15 it turns down hill again. The mountains ahead made me want to just keep walking.
My desire to go down the cable car and end this awesome experience was zero. If I hadn’t known Steve was waiting for me at the bottom, I would have stayed. Walking the Great Wall of China is one of the great experiences of a lifetime. Would I ever have this chance again? And on such a gloriously beautiful day? But I love my husband. (And thanked him for the ticket!)
Even views from the cable car were memorable.
By the time we got back to the car, our skin was gritty with salt. It took a long shower back at the hotel to stop the flavor of salt in the water running off my face.
If I were making recommendations, I would suggest spending the night closer to the wall. Our guide, John, had suggested inverting the itinerary to avoid the crowds since most people go in the morning. In fact, there were lots of tour buses when we arrived, all of which were gone by the time we came down, and although we saw people on the way, it was certainly not crowded. We first thought morning would be better to avoid the heat, but it was going to take two hours to get there, already putting us in midday heat. If you stayed closer, you could go up in the morning before the crowds (maybe even catch the sunrise), and go up again in the cool of evening after the crowds leave. If you took the cable car one of those times, you could spend your energy on the wall instead of climbing up to it, and go both directions. Just some thoughts. Sometime in your life you DO want to do this.
Oh, yes. 97 flights of stairs today.
I am currently visiting my daughter and her family in Seoul, South Korea. When I called to say good-by to my dad before leaving the US, he said, “I guess you haven’t been watching the news.”
I am always being stretched by the technology out there. At the moment I am learning to access podcasts. I can listen on my phone while walking on the treadmill or elliptical at the club down the road and distract myself from my body’s complaints about the distance or speed—not that either of those is the least bit impressive to anyone who isn’t used to spending her day in front of a computer.
The two “channels” that have motivated me to figure this out are Quick to Listen from Christianity Today Magazine and Rewrite Radio from Calvin College’s Festival of Faith and Writing.
Again this year my friend Debi Alexander sent a Christmas letter that struck a chord with me. She graciously allowed me to post it here.
I watch the tear roll down his face, passing by the remnants of an eternally runny nose and the dustings of powdered sugar from a donut. His look is earnest, pleading. Because I took it from him--his idol, that thing that comforts, the promise of security: his food.
No matter how much I sing, “We eat one bite at a time” and return the bowl to him after each “Chew, chew, swallow,” I have threatened his vows [his commitment not to be hungry again]. And he’s mad.
I met Tamara Jorell at a Minnesota N.I.C.E. meeting. N. I. C. E. stands for Novelists Inspiring Christian Excellence. It’s our local chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers—except that Tamara doesn’t write fiction. She writes true stories—“narrative non-fiction,” as she refers to it. In a blog called My Blonde Life in the Hood she tells stories about her neighborhood in North Minneapolis. It’s a place that reminds me a lot of where we used to live in Indianapolis a few blocks from the Butler University campus. Tamara’s neighborhood is racially, economically and spiritually diverse, full of real people, not statistics or headlines. She and her family have made it a point to get to know those people and be available to them for the sake of the Kingdom of God.
I am racist.
I think we all are racist. In this world we cannot help but be influenced by the color of our skin. Much as I love my brothers and sisters at Solid Word Bible Church where we worshipped when we lived in Indianapolis, my white skin has given me different life experiences than their black skin. I cannot help but view the world from inside my white body.
I recently attended a women’s retreat sponsored by my home church at Country Lake Retreat Center, Underwood, Indiana. I went, thinking it would be a chance to see lots of old friends. There were a few, but mostly it was a time of meeting new friends—younger women who are picking up the torch of encouraging women in their walk of faith and running with it.
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives.