A Human Wonder

‘Creativity is putting your imagination to work, and it’s produced the most extraordinary results in human culture’ – Ken Robinson.The Great Wall of China catches my breath every time I see it, climb it and walk along it. It is truly sensational. The Wall was originally created to protect the Chinese states against the invasions and attacks of the nomadic tribes as far back as the 7th Century BC though the majority of the existing wall is from the Ming Dynasty 1368-1644. It stretches from Dandong in the East to Lop Lake in the West and is estimated to be 13,170 miles long (21,196km). It is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and is recognised as one of the most impressive archaeological achievements in history.In my time of living in Beijing, I have been fortunate enough to visit the Great Wall on three occasions (soon to be four come March – the last visit!) There a numerous areas of the wall to visit though the most popular two are Badaling and Mutianyu. These are both major tourist spots and the areas that have been rebuilt and maintained to serve the four million tourists that visit every year. Mutianyu is the area I have visited twice, it wonderful and popular and you get a real feel of what the wall used to look like. It is also fairly modern with a subway for those feeling peckish after their hike, a chair lift to take you up and a toboggan to bring you back down. Whilst this is huge amounts of fun I cannot help but feel for the people that worked all those years creating this magnificent wonder for people to toboggan down it in the 21st century.The lake side of the wall – Huanghuacheng – has not been reconstructed to cater for visitors, it has been left to crumble naturally and it is wonderful to see. The heights are terrifying, the hike is challenging and it is fairly unsafe with steep drops either side. However with the huge mountains towering the wall and the frozen lake on one side, it is truly picturesque. The land is wild and unkempt and the wall rolls with the hills, up and down, left and right. Back in the Ming Dynasty they would not have had the machinery to cut through the land therefore seeing something manmade that does not eradicate the surroundings is truly great. Human beings are truly great for creating such a masterpiece. The Great Wall of China really reflects the wonder of humankind and our ability to simply create.

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