Everyone’s heard of the Great Wall of China, that it’s one of the wonders of the ancient world, that it’s visible from space, etc., but did you know that after hiking up all the steps –and there are a lot of them, let me tell you– one must climb in order to reach the Wall, you can opt to ride down in style via toboggan?
But let’s not bury the lead here, and speak of the Wall itself. Your humble correspondent is fairly well-traveled, but the Great Wall of China represented the first wonder of the world I’ve had the privilege of experiencing in person, and it was every bit as impressive as one could hope to expect. We had the great good fortune of visiting the Wall early on a crisp, clear morning, early enough that when we arrived, the parking lot was virtually empty and when we completed our hike up all those stairs, we were among only a handful of other visitors present. Kudos to Michael and Joel for insisting on a 6 a.m. departure, as the experience of having the Wall all but to ourselves only served to add to the majesty of the surroundings.
As I type, I’m sitting in the Manila airport, waiting to board our flight to Ho Chi Minh City for the final stop on our tour, and I have to say that this has just been an amazing experience, filled-to-bursting with memories that will last a lifetime for all involved. Having said that, I’m also compelled to say that standing atop, walking along, and clambering about the Great Wall of China with my Sharing the Point band of brothers (minus Paul, unfortunately, due to a cruel bout of miscommunication) was truly a moment demanding acknowledgement of that which has brought us all together.
Which is to say that all of us on the tour owe our thanks to SharePoint for bringing us together in the first place but even more to the point, we owe our thanks and gratitude to Rob and Fpweb.net for the extremely generous sponsorship that made Sharing the Point Asia a reality.
My documentation of our trip to the Great Wall of China wouldn’t be complete without a few words on our final experiences there, the first of which involves the aforementioned toboggan ride. I tend to doubt that such an experience exists elsewhere along the wall, but at the Beijing site (actually over an hour’s drive outside the city), it certainly exists as an option to make your way downhill. It was the method of descent I wanted to employ from the moment I first set eyes on it, and Dux and Mark ended up joining me on the ride. Here's Mark preparing to begin his run:
Once our rides were complete, the other noteworthy experience of the trip took place as we enjoyed a phenomenal breakfast of noodle soup and hot tea at the base of the Wall. Mark proclaimed the noodles the best he’d ever tasted, and that’s coming from a man who used to be in the pasta-making business.
As we were enjoying our noodle soup, our compatriots on the excursion were making their own way downhill. Michael, Joel, and Rob had chosen to pass on the toboggan and to walk as much of the wall as possible before taking a gondola ride back to the base. Naturally, it’s also possible to take the gondola to the top, but none of us even considered that as an option, as by unspoken agreement, we all wanted to earn the experience of reaching the Wall under our own power.
There will be more Beijing and Great Wall photos to share, but you can see Mark’s and Dux’s now.