|Snaking like a dragon along the mountain tops at Mutianyu|
Ultimately, though, the Great Wall of China joins Sweden's Vasa warship and Ronald Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative as a military flop. According to lore, over a million lives were spent in its construction; the cost in resources and effort is incalculable.
|A clear day above Beijing's smog|
The concept seems sound enough. And, in fact, the Wall did function as designed to help repel Manchu invasions in the early 1600s. But both before and after this period of relative success were a long string of failures. The Wall proved ineffective at preventing a highly-mobile invading force from going around it as the Mongols demonstrated in the 13th century. And, of course, no defenses can stand against internal betrayal as the Li Zicheng rebels proved when, in 1642, they seized Beijing and left the Ming Dynasty defenders isolated on the Wall with no base of supply.
|On the Wall|
|Some shallow, some deep. Some high, some low.|
|Drag my ass up that?|
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated
Don't ask me why. I don't know why. But it worked. I got to the top.
|A bit tuckered|
From the western terminus of the tourist-accessible Wall we went back east and found the place where you can ride summer toboggans back down to the village. That was a lot of fun. The rush of wind as I made my descent was perfect antidote for the hot, sweaty climb up.
And so I close with a few photos of those stone figures that guard the road to deceased Chinese Emperors. Tomorrow, God willing, I fly back to the United States. I can't wait to see my wife. And a special thanks to my dear brother and sister-in-law for the hospitality and generosity.
Stone Guardians at the Ming Tombs
|Sunflower called this a Chinese unicorn.|