Thursday, October 11, 2012

Juyong Pass [居庸关] - The Great Wall of China [万里长城] @ Beijing, China

There were two Great things i learnt about China when i was really young; one, it has in its possession the GREAT Pandas that are absolutely the cutest creatures in the world and two; it has the GREAT Wall that supposedly stretches for 10,000 kilometers!

And i was, without question, extremely excited to see with my very real eyes how impressive the Great Wall was in my most recent overseas trip to Beijing. 

Juyong Pass was given the title as the world's number one mountain pass (天下第一雄关)! I am not sure how true that is since i am not known to be a well travelled person.

A mountain pass is described as a path between two mountains and we were given two options upon reaching the pass; the steep, treacherous one to our right and the slightly comfortable yet still as challenging one to our left.

The daunting right path.

My parents chose the left path. And so did all of our tour mates! I was disappointed as i would have loved to attempt the more dangerous route! 

Be very careful! The uneven steps could be very slippery and one wrong step might mean somersaulting down the stairs and hurting yourself real bad. 

Major road cutting across the overhead pathway! 

There was a famous saying regarding the Great Wall; you would only be a real man when you have climbed up the Great Wall. At the age of 60, my dad can now formally inform his friends that he is a real man! The stone slab with the words "不到长城非好汉" is the evidence!

The walled fortification as we see now was built in 1368 during the Ming's dynasty although the history stretched to as far back as the Qin dynasty! 

No matter what, it was still a long stretch of walk for all of us! And the only motivation pushing me forward? If an old man who appeared to be in his late 80s can climb further than me, so can i!!!!!

View of the opposite side; i am so glad my parents did not choose the other path.

Our selected path was not exactly easy as well; each step had a different height which could mean that for some of them, i had to literally hold on to the railing and pull myself up the steps! 

It was again another hazy day! A pity as the picture could turn out to be so much better. At the very least, the above picture did show the many watchtowers.

Taken inside Beacon Tower No 1! The smell of urine was incredibly strong and i only realised the reason when i made my way back to the entrance; there was no toilet along the way and this was the best enclosed area one could have in order to relieve him/herself. 

By this time, almost all our tour mates had raised the white flag! The Teo family is one stubborn family and we persisted in continuing the tiring expedition! 

See that red watchtower? That's our destination.

Another way that we can take but we made the decision to give it a miss as the scenery would likely not be as beautiful as the chosen destination which was situated at a higher elevation.

So appropriate to have this near the ending point!

A customary shot to confirm we have reached the end (at least for this section of the Great Wall)! Out of 20 persons in our group, only five (including my family) managed to make it so far.

Mountain view at the side; this would be breathtaking should you visit in winter. 

The end? Not yet!

Just another two hundred meters beyond the red tower. You can actually see remnants of collapsed walls beyond "the end" and i guess it would just not be economical to repair these walls for the sake of tourism. 

This was the same watchtower. As the building was locked, i could not explore as much as i would like to. In case you are wondering, we spent around 40 minutes to reach 'the end'.

Remember these roof guardians? 

Making our way back. By all means, going down was clearly easier than going up. 

For a person who is afraid of height, that uncanny feeling of free falling down the steps could be a bit unnerving although i would confidently say that walking down the stairs from that gaping big hole at Tianmenshan was worse! 

See that smug face?! And it was only for a short section of the Great Wall! 

Back to the main building of Juyongguan. You could see from the picture that the paint was dropping off the support pillars! On one hand, i thought this added to the authentic feel of this ancient structure even though on the other hand, it could also mean a lack of maintenance. 

Panoramic picture for the path we have conquered!

Metal notices informing visitors to protect the cultural relics were installed everywhere yet it didn't stop people from vandalising! 

Mom noticed some shops near the parking bay where our coach was parked and stopped me from going through these stalls that were selling one item for only 10 Chinese Yuan (approximately S$2)!

I was also contemplating to put on an ancient costume for a memorable photo shoot with the Great Wall as a fantastic backdrop when the tour guide came to us and said we were the last group to arrive! 

The time was 3.13pm. We were notified before scaling the Great Wall that we had to be back by 3.30pm. As far as i am concerned, we were ahead of schedule! 

Mom didn't want to inconvenience our tour mates and i could see from her face how sad she was since she was all gunned up for some heavy bargaining!

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