Posts Tagged With: Great Wall

Descent -Photo Challenge

Looking down; a new perspective to see where you have come from… a descent…

The sun setting in Niagara region over the escarpment.

A beautiful golden sunset

A beautiful golden sunset

A plane ride home and anticipating the decent back on Canadian soil. The view was amazing with clouds, landscape and a little sparkle from a lake.

What a view

What a view

The most intense decent, but welcomed after a long climb up hundreds of stairs on the Great Wall on the Mutian Yu section.

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A long way down. What is worse the climb up or keeping your tired, shaking legs steady and in balance back down?

 

The steep climb where we just came down

The steep climb where we just came down

 

This is the challenge set by Word Press this week.

Stay tuned…

 

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Categories: Canada, Chinese Adventures, Photography, travel, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Endurance -Achieve your goals & dreams

Part of being an expat has offered us a great opportunity to travel. The world became smaller. Things that most people dream of are just around the corner, in our backyard or a short trip away. We have been lucky enough to see the Great Wall of China. My first visit was with a tour group, so the time was limited. I wished to get up these steep steps, but managed barely half way before the time forced me back. My goal, if I ever returned, was to get further. I really wanted to reach the top of those steps and the end of the restored section of the wall where some of the great monument lay crumbling from countless footsteps and hundreds of years.

This past summer we were able to return. Here is the starting point around gate 13 at the Mutianyu section of the wall. Goal in sight we started off.

Just after the cable car the start of the wall... go as far as you dare.

Just after the cable car the start of the wall… go as far as you dare.

 

Around gate 19 or 20 we can see the steepest section ahead.

Warning steep climb ahead

Warning steep climb ahead

The top! The day was glorious with clear blue skies and we could see further in the distance than our last trip to the wall. The wall snaked and turned over the green hills into the distance. August can be quite hot and humid, but today was reasonable. Once we started the climb I was sweating quite a lot. My legs began to shake and I wasn’t sure if I could make it. I had just recovered from a bad virus that sapped all my energy and strength and I was still not 100%. Throw in a touch of jet lag and a busy travel schedule to top it off. Later I would discover I was sick again and in 2 days time the same or similar virus returned and I was in bed. I was determined. I stopped regularly and took in the view while I rested. I drank lots of water and pushed on.

Reward... a view like this!

Reward… a view like this!

Look at the rocks to the left then look at the first picture. That will give you perspective how FAR we went.

Look at the rocks to the left then look at the first picture. That will give you perspective how FAR we went.

My endurance paid off and I made it to the top of the steps and past the final gate #23 open to tourists. We went to 24, but just couldn’t make the next steep climb on unsecured steps to #25. Maybe next time. Sometimes it is best to leave some travel dreams ‘undone’ so you have the desire to return.

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We started at the star… gate13. We went right to the end of the map (left side) #24. Approx. 5km one way and hundreds of steps.

Have you ever pushed yourself even when your body and mind said “I can’t”? Tell me about it in the comment section, or join Word Press this week for their photo challenge Endurance.

Sorry I am still not into my regular routine and I post when I can. Please stay tuned…

 

Categories: Chinese Adventures, History, Photography, teaching overseas, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Between & Perspective: Photo Challenge

Between the arches and bricks of the Great Wall of China I could see the shades of the mountains and just pick out the shadowy outline of one of the many gates that dot the length of the wall. From my point of view I felt so small as I strained my eyes to take it all in.

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Between ancient arches

Between ancient arches

In Cambodia the long lines of stone masonry gave me an interesting perspective. As I stood between the long galleries, with many other people, at the Angkor Watt and Ta Prohm temples my eye was drawn along the length of covered passages . Old stone fallen and restored.

Say Cheese :)

Say Cheese 🙂

 

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Check out Bastet Pixleventures and Word Press this week to see more.

 

Next weekend will be the ‘official’ last weekend for the Festivals and Gatherings theme for my monthly challenge Tourist in Your Own Town. Stay tuned for a new theme in July which, I will post once I return to Canada and get over jet lag 😉

 

Categories: Photography, Tourist in My Own Town, travel, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Framed Twists & Turns

Natural framing, or using something that may be otherwise seen as an obstacle can enhance your photography. The trick is having the eye to see it, or right position to capture it.

Seeing the twists and turns of the Great Wall of China I was able to frame it through a gate window.

The Great Wall twists and turns along the mountain ridge.

The Great Wall twists and turns along the mountain ridge.

Meanwhile the natural frame of the twisting roots and tree trunks covered this statue in Cambodia where only the face now peeks out. From guidebooks this phenomenon is described in detail and tells you to be on the look out for it. I was disappointed when I searched high and low and couldn’t find these elusive statues covered by nature. I assumed it was now lost under layers of time as it reclaimed its space. However, I was passing by a travel guide with a small group and they stopped in what appeared to be an unusual spot, nothing to see. I happened to overhear him point out the face peering out through the tree trunk. I looked and saw nothing. I looked closer and saw this tiny little face, something I assumed to be much larger. After all the large faces at Angkor Thom where massive, but this teeny face could be easily missed. What a great coincidence nature twisted and turned and allowed only the face to be perfectly framed and visible.

Peek-a-Boo

Peek-a-Boo

The more literal window frames inside the temples in Angkor Wat twisted and turned in such detail. More like spindles of wood than stone. I enjoyed looking through them and how they framed the windows into much more than just a square opening.

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Check out Word Press for TWISTS and Pixelventures for FRAMING.

Stay tuned…

Categories: Culture, Photography, travel, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Black & White: Pixelventures Photo Challenge

I have been scouring the USBs and hard drive for some Black & White photos for this week’s photo challenge set by Bastet with their weekly Pixelventures Photo Challenge. She is looking for photos of Autumn. Well here in Shanghai temperatures are still hovering around 23-27c. Autumn sets in much later. Hopefully my summer wheat ready for harvest fits the bill where the rest break the rules ;), but they are some of my favourites.

Until recently I haven’t taken a lot of black and white photos. My little point and shoot camera didn’t have that as an option. When I bought my larger camera  it allowed me more choices including Black & White and Sepia. I use it on occasion, but I tend to lean towards Sepia. I like to use warmer tones of the brown to the cooler B&W.

Thanks to Bastet for the inspiration. Enjoy my gallery of B&W pics and a few Sepia too 🙂 Be sure to follow the links to see more examples, or to post your own.

I added pictures from nature as well as man made things. Hover over the photo to see the titles.

Which ones were your favourite?

Stay tuned I still want to post more this weekend on our short trip to Hong Kong…

Categories: Photography, post a week, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Beijing: Hell of a Hike -The Great Wall

Saturday morning the alarm went off way too early and woke us for our next Beijing adventure. This was the day we were heading out to the Great Wall. Bleary eyed and sore from the rock hard bed we got dressed and ready for the tour we booked with the Grey Line tour desk that was located in our hotel lobby. We grabbed some baked goods and coffee for a breakfast on the bus from a great bakery beside the hotel, Xinqiao Sapporo Bakery. Their croissants were excellent. We rushed to make it to check in just in time to find the bus had not yet arrived. A few minutes late the bus arrived and we loaded onto the coach and waited to leave.

The tour guide informed us we would be getting dropped off at another hotel and going with a different guide. Our first stop on the tour was the Olympic Park. From a raised platform we has some great views of the Water Cube, an interesting building that looks like someone blew a bunch of bubbles. The glass is iridescent and bulges out in small 3 dimensional sections.  The way the light plays off the glass really added to the effect. The Bird’s Nest was a tangle of patterns. The few minutes to snap a few photos wasn’t enough to really appreciate the complexes. If we had more time in Beijing this would have been a place to go back to explore at leisure.

Traffic in Beijing like any big city is busy. Saturday there are no restrictions and all cars are allowed access to highways. With today being a warmer, sunny day many people were escaping the city. We crawled along to our next stop which was a tourist trap to show a variety of jade cutting and designs. The short tour ended in a large over priced show room where they sold everything from jewellery, knick knacks and larger statue style pieces. Back on the bus our next destination was the wall. It was creeping up on mid day and the anticipation and reason for the trip was starting to build as I kept thinking “are we there yet?”

Another turn off the highway and the mountains came into view. We strained our eyes wondering if this was the wall… not yet, but we were getting closer. After we went through a small village and started to twist, turn and climb we came to the parking area where we were let off to the entrance of Mutianyu. A steep climb past many vendors selling everything for a ‘dollar’ brought us to the entrance to the cable car. A steep ride up brought the breathtaking views of the wall perched along the ridge finally into view. Jason, our guide, left us at Tower 14 and told us to return in two hours.

First Views of the Wall

First Views of the Wall

Surprisingly out of breath we started the trek on the wall. Uneven and broken stones paved the way to a misty view with dotted towers in the distance. After a narrow climb through the crowds we set off onto the rolling path that stretched out before us. Tower 20 was the goal; a steep climb straight up. Each twist and turn brought in a new view which my 200+ photographs can attest to. Some towers allowed a bird’s eye view from high above that is you could make the awkward and precarious climb. Mutianyu is said to be the most picturesque section of the wall and it certainly lived up to that claim with steep mountains, deep valleys and stepped terraces. The landscape was still dusty brown with spring coming later to this elevation. Small patches of snow clung onto the shade in a few shadows along the wall, more evidence that spring had not yet arrived.

Breathtaking Views

Breathtaking Views

The steps were wide and shallow, not what I expected. It made walking difficult since it didn’t fit your usual stride. Flat sections were welcomed, but slippery and hard on the calves on the way down. The elevation made even the slightest exertion seem difficult. The steep climb kept getting closer. After about tower 16 the crowds thinned and I had the wall mostly to myself. John had run ahead to ensure he had time to reach the top of tower 20 in the short time we had. Looking around it seemed so surreal that I was here, a place of history and where few people may ever have the luxury to visit. I pressed on and started the climb up to tower 20. Low walls on the sides and the elevation started to make me feel light headed and dizzy. I easily could have made it up, but feared the decent with a dizzy head and no railings to help support me for the return. Checking the time I knew I wouldn’t make it to the top gate and I was forced to head back. I made it a quarter or third of the way up. I returned to our meeting place and waited for John. Just in the nick of time John came running back. He made it to gate 23 which, is crumbling away. According to our guide Jason, many parts of the wall are now allowed to crumble since it is not needed for security and too hard to manage and maintain. Enough places are preserved to support the tourists, so the majority of the wall is now off-limits or unsafe for visitors. John made it to this limit which he described as amazing.

Here are some Great Wall Facts:

Chinese Name: 长城/万里长城
Chinese Pinyin: Cháng Chéng/Wàn Lǐ Cháng Chéng
Length: 8,851.8 km (5,500 miles)
Construction Period: About 2,000 years from the Warring States Period (476 BC – 221 BC) to Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)  This section is 7-8.5 m high (23-26 ft).                                                                                                                                                               From: http://www.travelchinaguide.com/china_great_wall/

We really lucked out with great sunny weather. The day before and day after our trip was cold, damp and very smoggy. We certainly would have missed the amazing views and scenery if we had come another day. We headed back to the city tired and worn out. One more stop at a tea factory where they quickly showed us a tea ceremony and then allowed us to taste many teas. Most time was spent encouraging us to buy. We stumbled tired and exhausted back to the bus after  a long and most amazing day. We will sleep well tonight —even on the rock hard beds.

Stay tuned for more… next time the Forbidden City.

Categories: Chinese Adventures, travel, Uncategorized, unique experiences | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,