A Chinese saying goes ‘He, who has not climbed The Great Wall, is not a brave man’! It is now a decade since two brave women climbed The Great Wall of China! Our visit to The Great Wall was a great adventure. One of my life time ambitions fulfilled! Climbing those steep steps was a lot of effort, but I assure you, was worth every ‘paisa’, sorry ‘RMB’.
The Great Wall of China is said to be the only structure on earth that is visible from outer space! An archaeological survey found that it was more than 21,000 kilometres long! It was built in sections since the 7th Century BC, most of which no longer exists. The section best preserved was built during the rule of the Ming Dynasty, 1368-1644. The purpose of building it was certainly defense from marauding nomadic groups, but also lying on the Silk Route the Great Wall was a means of collecting taxes, regulating and encouraging trade. This fascinating structure consisted of watch towers, barracks for troops, garrisons stations and capability for signalling through smoke and fire. For Credits see here.
We had the company of a Belgian family on the trip. The son of the couple was an undergraduate in Chemistry and little Leilah was a four year adopted child from China. They told us that they wanted to adopt a girl from India, but were unable to do so. On this trip they said they were giving Leilah a lived experience of the land she came from. The son decided that he would try out being a Chinese warrior and little Leilah a Chinese damsel! So here are the cuties.
The fierce Chinese Warrior and little Chinese damsel
Our tourist guide’s English name was ‘Uki’ as the Chinese believe we cannot pronounce their names. HA, try pronouncing some of our Tamil/Telegu/Malayalam names! Uki was a very talkative and friendly girl. While little Leilah spoke little, she made great friends with our daughter! Leilah, meant ‘Holy’ in Nordic countries, while ‘Leila’ meant ‘night’ or ‘dark’ in Arabic. Leila could also be interpreted as romantic after the famous romantic mythical characters of ‘Leila-Majnu’, an Arabic version of Romeo and Juliet.
We visited the Ming Tombs and Uki regaled us with stories of all its myths. The emperor and empress of the Ming dynasty paid a yearly visit to the tombs of their ancestors, which in those days took 3-4 days of travel from the Forbidden City in Beijing. It took us only two hours. After the ceremonies, the commemorative inscriptions on sacred silk material were burned in the Silk Burning Stove. It was like leaving their calling cards, so the dead would know of their visit!! For credits See here
In one of Uki’s mythical tales, we entered the gate of ‘after-life’ and returned alive! The ancient Chinese believed that ‘after-life’ was similar to the current life. The rich and powerful of the ruling dynasties wished to have all the comforts in ‘after-life’.
Silk, jade and tea were very significant to the ancient Chinese. Uki took us to a silk making enterprise, a jade store and a ‘tea-house’, all of which are traditional industries of China. To be sure there was a commercial element to this, but it provided us insights into the Chinese way of life. The interesting part was that in each of these enterprises they showed us the process of production and explained the importance of the role of the workers, a good Chinese tone to the presentations.
And so with the traditional tea ceremony ended our wonderful day out with Leilah and family and the lively Uki ! As you can see Little Leilah really took to my daughter. Interestingly we noticed that the over-friendliness of Leilah seemed to bother her Belgian parents. Obviously the Asian genes reigned supreme on that day which was perhaps unfathomable to the Belgian genes!! Ummmhh!