ARTIST RESIDENCY CHINA — BEIJING, no. 19
Begun in 500 BCE, the great wall is actually many walls built at different times with different materials depending on the era and region. (See Peter Hessler and David Spindler). An archaeological survey by China’s State Administration of Cultural Heritage announced in June 2012 the completion of a five year measurement of the wall at 21,196.18 km (13,170.69 miles), more than twice the length of previous estimates.
With Forbidden City being the first recommendation in tourist guidebooks for what to see in Beijing, the Great Wall is a close second. Mutianyu is more dramatic and less crowded than Badaling, the most popular section of wall and half-hour closer to city center. After rejecting public transportation options for being too complicated, I hired a car for an 8 hour contract. The driver, who spoke a little English, met me at 7:15 a.m. for the 90 minute ride.
State sponsored crenelated road barriers signal the destination is near. There is a short walk from the ticket booth through a newly built gauntlet-style outdoor mall fronted by an energetic yet easily brushed off battery of hawkers. Small shops overflow with an unbelievable abundance of tourist junk. A short bus ride takes visitors to a gondola that eliminates what would be an approximately twenty minute steep hike from the parking lot to Tower 14.
The weather was in the mid-90s with limited visibility due to haze that thickened in the afternoon. The first thing I noticed in the wooded mountainous region of the wall was the sound of bird song absent in Beijing.
crenelated barriers on roads near the wall
gondola to Tower 14
last salesman north of Tower 14
past the last concession things fall apart
condition of the wall without renovation
return trip looking east
tower concession stand
My good friends and complete strangers, beautiful women who ask me to have our picture taken together on the Great Wall at Mutianyu. I learned to hand my camera to photographers to have a picture, too.
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