Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Ming's Great Wall; Beijing, PRC

Evidently the Ming emperors were not the only ones interested in keeping put barbarians.  This civilization has a long history of walled towns, walled cities and even, evidently walled countries.  While the Great Wall may be one of the Seven Wonders of the World, I am much more curious about how they defined their sense of who was "Chinese"

The Manchurian dynasty (Kublai Khan ruling China as an outsider) was particularly difficult to explain to the kids. Sydney and Liji were much more interested in how the wall served to keep put invaders.  They planned all sorts of defenses against the Mongolians.  Almost as interested as they were in the differences between "kneeling" and "standing" lions, dragons, camels and elephants at the nearby Ming tombs. 

It was another suprisingly "California summer day" as our hotel manager described it; clear blue sky, no pollution, really hot but not humid like the south.  It made for a hot but not daunting hike across the wall on the peaks of these stunning mountains a mere sixty miles from Beijing. 

The gondola ride down was a relief from the heat, but also a stark reminder of the challenges for both the Ming era builders (500,000 died building these walls) and their northern invaders in taking on this glorious, rugged landscape.