EXPERIENCING CHINA’S WONDERWALL

EXPERIENCING CHINA’S WONDERWALL

Two large red doors adorned with golden knobs and an ornamental door knock greets me. This is the ‘doorway to heaven’ I am told. Eager to see what is on the other side, I reach up to the heavy door knock and announce my arrival.The Temple of Heaven was built in 1420 A.D. during the Ming Dynasty to offer sacrifice to Heaven. As Chinese emperors called themselves ‘The Son of Heaven’, they dared not to build their own dwelling, ‘Forbidden City’ bigger than a dwelling for Heaven.The Chinese thought that ‘Heaven is round and the earth is square’ is reflected in the design of the Temple.During the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368 A.D. – 1911 A.D.), the emperors would offer sacrifice to Heaven on the day of the Winter Solstice every year. This ceremony was to thank Heaven and hope everything would be good in the future.As I wander around the Temple I have a sense the walls could whisper ancient tales of what they have seen.

Leaving the Temple of Heaven somewhat mesmerized by the size and magnitude of the area, I am excited to next visit an even greater Chinese structure, the Great Wall.

After an hour and a half drive out of Beijing city I reach the foot of the Great Wall of China, just as the heavens opened and the rain fell. I was determined to climb the Wall, so it was on with the rain poncho and up toward the many stairs that lay ahead.

Although it was originally built for protection, the Great Wall (‘Chang Cheng’ in Chinese) is a true marvel and a testament to the long history of the Chinese Civilisation. It was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987.

Despite peering through the mist and fog of rainclouds, I stand on a watchtower and look down the wall snaking across the land, imagining what it would have been like to come across such a structure as a warrior back in the time.Sadly, some parts of the Great Wall of China have almost disappeared, some parts have been overwhelmed by the elements and some have been eroded by local people recycling the wall’s materials for constructions in their villages.

Nevertheless, in large the Great Wall of China still stands in its silent splendour, enduring the passage of time and greeting the changes of the seasons as it has done for many hundreds of years.

I leave the Great Wall feeling I have accomplished one of my travel dreams, and while the weather was a challenge, it was worth the head to toe drenching to see this ‘Seventh Wonder of the New World’.

Doug Potter

New Farm/Teneriffe

0481 383 675

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