“There is nothing insignificant in the world. It all depends on the point of view.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
For as long as I can remember I have wanted to experience four things; Australia’s Great Barrier Reef – an incredible spectacle which I visited in 2001, the Great Pyramids of Egypt, (still on my bucket list but a bit dangerous at the moment), an African safari (a dream-come-true several years ago) and The Great Wall of China. This week I was able to realize that final dream, which exceeded even my own very high expectations.
“A point of view can be a dangerous luxury when substituted for insight and understanding.”
Few things have been more widely photographed than the iconic Great Wall, so finding a unique perspective is quite challenging, but honestly it’s the ONLY place to start when talking about touring China. More unique perhaps are some of the stories we heard during our visit to the wall’s beautiful Jinshanling section.
” From a certain point of view, our real enemy, the true troublemaker, is inside..”
Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama
Our guide told us the legend of Meng Jiang Nu, whose husband – like all men between the ages of 16 and 60 – was enlisted to help build the wall. Sadly, he was called on their wedding day so she gave him a half of her jade hairpin to remind him of her. When he hadn’t returned after a year away, she went out looking for him. She found him among the many dead and was able to identify him by the jade piece he carried with him still.
“Style is the perfection of a point of view.”
Because so many died during the building of the wall (some say as many as 1,000,000), it is also called the longest cemetery in the world. It stretches 5,500 miles and is one of two things that can be seen when orbiting the earth (the other being the Great Barrier Reef).
“Nobody outside of a baby carriage or a judge’s chambers believes in an unprejudiced point of view.”
We were very fortunate in several respects the day of our visit to the wall. First, there were very few tourists, perhaps because this is the furthest wall access from Beijing, a solid 2-hour’s drive. Second, we had incredible weather. We arrive in misty, foggy conditions which made for a truly ethereal experience, but as the day wore on the mists cleared and we had an incredibly clear, blue sky such that we could see for miles and miles. The wall looked almost like a necklace crowning the tips of the mountains surrounding us.
“We cling to our own point of view, as thought everything depends on it. Yet our opinions have no permanence; like autumn and winter, they gradually pass away.”
We have seen many amazing things here in China, which is truly a magical place, and we are only a week into our journey. The internet service, while not what I’m used to, is better than I expected so I look forward to sharing more as the weeks go by. In the meanwhile, to see some other “Points of View”, click here.