I want to share with you a short piece from one of my favorite places to travel in western China.
Jiayuguan, Gansu Province – The Over-hanging Great Wall of China
Excerpt from my diary 26/08/12 – written from my hotel room in Jiayuguan, China:
Waking up from another dishevelled sleep, I’m in no mood to play tourist today. My dreams are consistent with the night before and I’m exhausted. My money is running out and the reality is creeping into my subconscious, taunting me in my sleep. I dream that I follow every path, yet every path I choose inevitably leads to the same outcome: Going home. Lying in bed I splurge all my fears to Becks instead of touring the outside world. So engrossed with our own company we leave the room only once, for the fresh spicy noodles from the lady across the road. Sometimes it is nice just to have slow travel days like these.
But the following day, with a clearer head and a more positive mindset, we did play tourist. We were, after all, bunking close to the Overhanging Great Wall of China. With new stocks of wine in tow, the taxi dropped us as the entrance. An unexpected disneyland-style display and ticket booth greets us along with a hoard of bubbly Chinese tourists who seemed to take more interested in us than the actual Great Wall of China. While they peer at us we take our first peek of a tiny fragment of the wall,which could just be seen popping out behind the strategic placement of a large cardboard backdrop.
We all know the Great wall of China is in fact GREAT, with a total length of 21,196 kilometres and construction dating back all the way to 200BC. The section we visited (the Over-Hanging great Wall of China) was built in the 1500’s for the sole purpose of guarding the east from the west. The spindly wall sprawls it’s way along the backbone of the unforgiving Heishan mountains and to the west, beyond the wall, is nothing. This was once the border of China and a place of exile to those unwanted by the Chinese supremacy, a decision which would lead to certain death.
With no time schedule or time limits, we outlast the Chinese tourists, roam the walls and climb the watchtowers in peace. I will never forget opening a bottle of wine on the wall and “saluting” to the sun as it slowly set below the mountains.
Except from my dairy 27/08/12 – written on the overhanging great wall, Jiayuguan.
We sit in isolation, watching the sun struggle to control the luminous shadows and violet hues which streak the contours of the walls we sit upon. The bulging moon has recently risen and is now settling in above the highest watch tower. The incandescent night sky is vast and clear with a small patch of wispy clouds which have distorted the scarlet rays of the setting sun. Every minute the colour tones are changing and becoming more complex, unnamable to the masses but definitive to a paint salesman I’m sure. ‘Coral bells,’ ‘enticing red’ or maybe ‘cheery’ he would call them. Either way, the colours seem to be holding us here, to latch onto the beauty and stay that little bit longer. We clink our plastic mugs together saluting to my reoccurring dream, to the unknown and to the beauty around us.
Things would work out.