That’s what Richard Nixon apparently said when he saw the Great Wall. Well done Dick.
There was no need to worry about whether the Great Wall would be any good – it was fantastic. A small group of us walked between Jinshanling and Simatai, a beautiful quiet stretch of wall, on a perfect clear day. The wall is in varying states of repair, from the completely deteriorated to the recently rebuilt. What keeps a lot of the tourists away is the difficulty in walking this stretch – I was quite happy that ten kilometres would be an easy walk, but stupidly forgot that it’s ten kilometres up and down the whole way, sometimes up and down seventy degree slopes of slippery rocks, where the steps have crumbled away. Before too long I was utterly knackered – what also didn’t help was wearing a thirty litre day pack containing far too much crap I didn’t need, which added a load of extra weight. Never doing that again, and take note Rob who’s doing a sponsored Great Wall walk later this month.
After a couple of kilometres I was very nearly ready to give up and take a shortcut back to Simatai to wait at the minibus for the others with my tail between my legs – I’m so glad I didn’t. I had the help of a local guide, a very sweet lady, who was despite being considerably shorter than me, as strong as an ox. She literally hauled me up some of the slopes.
The Chinese on the wall took the biscuit – we’d be puffing and panting and they’d be mooching up a slope towards you in the opposite direction, smoking a fag. For the Chinese, apparently any time is a good time to smoke a fag.
Finally, I am still not certain whether it is possible to see the Great Wall from space, but I have been reliably informed that it is possible to see Walthamstow Market from space, so I’m sure you can.
Now I’m in Shanghai, and staying at Simon and Charlotte’s place. Shanghai is absolutely massive. I went up into the Pearl radio and TV tower yesterday and saw high-rises and skyscrapers stretching away to the horizon, or at least what looked like it could have been the horizon through the smog. It is huge. Shanghai is more Western in feel than Beijing, there’s a little more English used to make things a tad easier, and the place feels a bit less quaint or museum-like than Beijing did in parts. I’ve been exploring on foot and using the subway.
I finally got to see Star Wars Episode III yesterday, fortunately in English – thank goodness George, you finally redeemed yourself and didn’t give Jar Jar Binks a line.