Friday, February 10, 2012

February 4: “Let’s Take the Stairs!”

On Saturday, we drove north of Beijing toward the mountains to see one of the world’s great wonders: The Great Wall of China.

Mia did some research before we left for China and here is some of what she learned about the wall:

The Great Wall stretches across 5,500 miles of northern China. It has guard towers and protection for soldiers who needed to shoot down on the enemies. The wall was built over thousands of years by different emperors who wanted to protect the borders by keeping out various nomadic peoples from the north. Soldiers, farmers and criminals all worked on the wall and sometimes young boys were forced to work too. Many people died --maybe up to one million!--while working on the wall and their bodies were just put right into the construction.

The wall is a source of national pride in China. Some people say that you can see the wall from the moon, but that’s not true. Other people are more careful to say that you can see it from space, but even that is hard to do since the wall is only several meters wide and the color of the wall is often the same as the color of the ground around it. According to NASA there are many more things that are more easily identifiable from space, but when our guide told us that the Great Wall was the only man-made structure visible from space, we smiled and nodded out of respect.

Whether or not the wall is visible from space, it is still a magnificent work that has stood for centuries. Many of the steps were worn smooth and dipped in the center from millions of footsteps.

Our advice to the architects: work on making even step rises! The steps varied from 2 to 30 inches without any pattern or reason. We had to watch our footing going up and down. Our guide reminded us that the builders weren’t thinking ahead to the picky tourists of the 21st century!

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