A Funny Incident at The Great Wall.
I was thinking today about the Great Wall of China. It’s an extraordinary structure, of course—a marvel of design and engineering. But when you’re actually standing there looking at it, it’s impressive almost beyond words. And after a while, you find yourself thinking about what it must have taken to build it . . . especially the human cost.
It’s a stunning experience, at least it was for me. It’s really formidable . . . massive . . . and where we saw it, about an hour’s drive from Beijing, it was built on mountainous terrain. Climbing up the wall was exhausting because the steps are very high. It’s hard to remember, but I’d guess 14 or 15 inches high. Nevertheless, I set out, and climbed for a pathetically short distance before having to sit down and catch my breath.
I sat in one of the notches on the outside portion of the wall—it was the only place to sit—and was catching my breath when a young Chinese woman came up to me, chattering away in Chinese and gesturing for me to stay seated. Then she picked up a little boy, perhaps two years old—her son, I suppose—and placed him on my lap. She then backed away, still gesturing that I should stay seated, and began taking some video of me and the shy little boy.
He hopped off my lap and I took his photo and this photo of his mother, who was still taking video of us. I resumed my seat in the notch on the wall and almost instantly another child was thrust onto my lap and an older Chinese couple snapped photos of me with, I presume, their grand daughter.
The little boy had been shy, but this kid–I really love this picture–she was something! In another 20 years, she’s going to be running things, isn’t she!
Later, once again on our bus and heading back to Beijing, I asked our guide about the experience with the kids. He said they were probably people from “the provinces” and wanted to have the kids’ pictures taken with a white guy!
There are a few experiences I’ve had in my travels that are really memorable. Standing in the middle of Red Square is one; having my picture taken with those two kids on the Great Wall is certainly another.