Back in 2003 I ticked off yet another Bucket List wish – to walk part of the Great Wall of China. I’m glad I didn’t aim to walk all of it – at 5,500 miles long I’d still be staggering along it now!

I went on a touring holiday that also included Beijing, Chengdu, the Summer Palace (it was snowing), Tiananmen Square and the Terracotta Army.

The not so 'Summer' Palace

The not so ‘Summer’ Palace

Although there is no denying that China is difficult to travel around independently due to the fact you can’t even guess what the road signs are saying, the Chinese are very welcoming. I still remember visiting a commune (small village) where a lady was selling peanuts and cola. I bought a cola off her and simply because I said hello and thank you in Chinese she gave me a huge handful of peanuts (not my favourite food but I could hardly refuse).

Peanut lady

Peanut lady

I also managed to cause some confusion when we visited Xi’an which is also spelt Sian – I suspect I could have passed myself off as Queen of the region if I’d wanted to!

The Terracotta Army was staggering. Along with the Grand Canyon it is the only place that has brought tears to my eyes at first sight. I always, I guess naively, assumed the rows upon rows of soldiers were found like that but, no, everything had been discovered in little itty, bitty pieces and dedicated archeologists have spent the last 40 years painstakingly putting them back together. For a lot of them it is a job for life and will no doubt be a never ending task.

Just one of the sites they are working on

Just one of the sites they are working on

But I’m not here to talk about this, stunning thought it is. I’m here to talk about the Great Wall itself. Obviously the areas that are open to the public are pretty touristy but you can still get a bit of quiet time. What surprised me was how steep the wall was in places – you were often eye level with the steps you were about to climb. As my mum would say, I had to ‘stop to admire the view’ quite a few times on my way up, but that’s what I get for being an asthmatic smoker I guess!

Jeez

Jeez

Stopping to admire the view

Stopping to admire the view

The locals had also opened a shop at one of the gatehouses offering ice cream and drinks although I think oxygen masks might have been more useful!

If you want to travel somewhere a little different, somewhere that makes you fully aware you aren’t in Kansas anymore, then China is definately worth a visit – and you should go to the Peking Opera just to read the English translations which will keep you amused for hours…

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