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November 30th, 2009:

In awe – Trashy in China, Part 8

At certain moments during one’s travels and travails through life, there are times of awe. These can be of special personal or spiritual relevance – such as a birth of a child or a marriage. These instants can be at times of exhilaration, such as the successful achievement of an important personal or professional goal. And these moments of awe can be brought on through a sensory explosion,whether it be a visual experience, auditory, or emotional.

I have had the pleasure of many of these special moments and it is always wonderful stumble upon a new experience that again elicits that feeling.

Such was the case on Saturday when I and several of my colleagues made a 2 hour trek to the Great Wall of China. I can count on two hands the number of times I have been in awe of my physical surroundings: the Canadian Rockies, Lake Louise, Georgian Bay, Stanley Park, Playa del Carmen, a cliff in Scotland that overlooks the Isle of Skye, all have made me gasp in wonder at the beauty of it all. I don’t awe easily, you understand.

Now I can add one more.

Amazing really, that any invading army would even sanely consider invading China by scaling and overcoming the Wall. Although I have been posting some pics of the place, photos do not do justice the sheer brutality of the terrain that an army would have faced in gaining even the base of the wall. Encampments would have been made in one of the many valleys that lie beneath the ridges upon which the wall was constructed. Sheer faces made of unforgiving rock or treacherous gravel would have been the initial challenge. Then a 40-70 degree climb up to the base of the Wall – over open ground with no chance of cover to avoid arrows shot from those defenders on the wall and in the towers. IF they were lucky enough to gain the base of the structure, they would have been deterred from scaling the face by the warriors perched several meters above firing arrows, hurling rocks and perhaps duping hot water or oil on those below (though I’m not actually sure that they would have done the latter).

In any case, the going would have been difficult – if not nearly impossible for an armed force to scale the Wall and overcome its guardians.

You cannot imagine how the open sky, the massive structures and the wild terrain all combined for and overwhelming sensory experience. It was intimidating beyond belief due to the sheer scale of the setting. I had one of those “OMG, I’m so just a pimple on the butt of the planet” moments. And while pictures cannot possibly capture this, the can provide the viewer with an inkling of what I had the pleasure to experience on Saturday.

I will never forget this adventure and I strongly encourage you, if ever the chance arises, to visit this sacred place that is truly one of the world’s wonders.

That’s one more thing I can cross off my Bucket List.