The great wall…its big

The Great Wall of China is rightfully called one of the great wonders of the world. That is if you can find a bit that is not swamped with American tourists noisily commenting with their usual wit on everyone and everything in 50 meters.  Possibly while simultaneously trying to buy something from one of the army of street vendors that colour the wall, not speaking a word of mandarin and assuming that the vendor will understand them if they move closer and shout even louder.  As the vendor just stands there smiling not understanding what is being said but knowing that they can safely charge 5 times the normal price and their oh so culturally sensitive customer will still think its cheap.

Luckily I and the rest of the project trust volenteers managed to avoid such a experience by going to what is known as the “wild” wall. That is a part of the wall which is not maintained for tourist reasons. Granted it was a two hour journey from Beijing, followed by a overnight stay in a small village plus a 40 minute climb up a mountain that became increasingly vertical as you reached the top, in 33 degree humid heat causing everyone’s shirt to be soaked with sweat to the degree that it could be wrung out of our t-shirts (there is a reason as to why everyone in the photo’s has their shirts off).  However this is a small price to pay in order to see the Great Wall as it should be seen, a stunning historical monument not a farcical theme park.

Those various barriers ensured that we where the only ones who where on that part of the wall. It is quite impossible to genuinely describe what its like to be on that wall…so i won’t i just hope that the pictures speak for themselves 

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On my way in Abu Dhabi airport

Sand DunesWell this begins the Straw Dragons blog which detailing the experiences of its author while teaching English for a year in a Chinese high school. As it currently stands I am not actually in what its natives modestly call zhong gao or middle nation (as in the centre of the earth). Instead I am sitting on a sturdy suitcase, probably taking up more room than I need, waiting for the gate of my transfer flight to Beijing in Abu Dhabi to open. Given then that whatever exciting/tepid adventures I may experience haven’t actually happened yet I have very little to write about.

So I will simply finish by saying that for whatever reason you are reading this, either because you know me and care enough to follow my often rambling steam of thought or because you have simply stumbled across this in the recesses of the net. I hope that you find what you see to be at least in part amusing.