Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Wall

After several days of acting as kings and queens of commerce, Jake and I finally went to visit the Wall, the Great Wall that is. Laolongtou, specifically, the Dragon's Head of the Great Wall, where the eastern end of the wall meets the Pacific Ocean. Being on the wall itself is a pretty fantastic feeling - stepping on thousands of years of history and work - plus, we've been watching Game of Thrones so I feel medieval and badass every time I mention "The Wall."

Visiting the Wall was an impromptu trip, though I'd wanted to do something fun for Jake's upcoming birthday. Having our hosts, Helen and John, and Helen's sister join us was completely sporadic, and it turned out to be pretty fun. John is an expert navigator and also both he and Helen are very much overprotective parents, which is certainly preferable to "Here's a map. Good on ya." John likes to linger near the front of all public transport and make small talk with the drivers. They apparently mostly talk about the traffic. Helen can't really explain why he does this.

But anyway, he and Helen got us to Laolongtou, then Helen's sister took Jake and me inside the attraction. The weather was absolutely beautiful - slightly breezy, maybe a little overcast, and just hot enough to have the salt water air stick on your skin - as we hiked through the many corridors to the Dragon's Head. As we trekked down a particularly steep and eroded ravine, I said, "At least it's not raining."

In the midst of all this history and beauty, I think the thing Jake and I were most excited for was the looming Pacific Ocean, greyish and smeared with seaweed. Helen's sister declined to join us on the beach, but, shoes off, Jake and I curtailed it towards the shore and splashed into the ocean, climbing on the slippery, smooth rocks and feeling the gritty sand grind against the soles of our still winter-acclimated feet.

Behind us was the Dragon's Head and in the distance the Temple of the Goddess of the Sea, where, feet still sprinkled with tan and silver bits of sand, we headed for next. As we crossed the pass to descend the steps, Helen's sister, who speaks virtually no English, began frantically waving her hand and shouting, "Come on!" A nearly black sky rolled across the Pacific, encompassing the Dragon's Head in dark, grey shadows. At first, I pointed to the sky and said, "Dun, dun, dun," and then I remembered that I knew how to say bad in Chinese. So I pointed again and said, "Bu hao."

"Dui," Helen's sister agreed. "Bu hao!"

The three of us jogged up the steps, sped along the rocky paths, and practically ran out the gates. It didn't begin raining until we were safely under cover at the bus stop. And did it rain! Downpour! The streets - poorly irrigated at best - flooded with stink water that splashed the windows of cars and came in through the tire holes on our bus. It was only then that John reminded us that, the day we arrived, it rained, too, when we got on the bus. But it stopped before we reached Qinhuangdao. John said, "It'll stop." Meaning, it'll stop before we need to get off the bus. It did.

1 comment:

  1. i enjoy following your journey~~thanks for posting the photos of your travels~~I get to travel with you while being in the land of Whitingham~~
    I am so happy for you both to have such an amazing adventure!!!