The Great Wall of China is indeed as great as everyone says it is. Visiting it recently, however, made me aware of a few other things besides its greatness:
- It is visited by A LOT of people! I was overwhelmed by the thronging hordes of humanity on the wall the day I was there. I have no idea what the numbers were, but the wall was so crowded that I could barely move. At times, I became claustrophobic and had to force myself to breathe.
- You can see in the photos that the visibility was not great. The weather could be described as partly cloudy, mostly polluted. Alas, Beijing and its surrounding areas are marred by serious pollution, which imparts a constant gray haze to the area. Partly because of the lack of visibility and partly because of the teeming hordes mentioned above, I didn’t take as many photos as I normally would have.
- I didn’t realize until visiting the Great Wall that I am Exotic. My travelling companions and I were distinct minorities in terms of our whiteness. Furthermore, my companions have very blond hair, and I have curly hair. All of these things apparently make us fascinating to a lot of Chinese people who aren’t used to white folks. We were often stared at, and sometimes people asked us if they could take our pictures. In one of the photos below you can see me with a young Chinese woman. She had asked me if she could get a picture with me, and I said yes. Then her brother wanted one with me. Then her father wanted another one. I felt like a celebrity! This sort of reaction happened frequently at the major tourist sites in and near Beijing.
- But then I came home, and now nobody asks for my picture any more. 😦 The moral of the story is that everybody is exotic–somewhere on the planet.