The Wall

In Matt's Musings, The Family, Travel
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Just when we actually started to catch ourselves getting “lazy” in our appreciation of everything we see – we go and have a day like today. A completely blow your socks off, tummy flip, “I can’t believe we are here” kind of day.

(Even we adults can get blasé about the wonder in this land. Tonight walking home from dinner I noticed a doorway that I had walked past for 5 days but never taken note of. I wandered in and there was a small, humble nondescript temple….that just happened to have stood there since before Coepernicus ruffled some feathers and a mere 200 years before Newton discovered gravity……nothing much to see really……)

We saved the Great Wall till last and to be honest I was a little nervous that I was going to be annoyed or frustrated. The sheer number of people  in this country means that it is hard to be alone (especially at anything resembling a tourist site). On top of that they seem to have a penchant for blasting out bad Asian pop songs at full volume completely oblivious to the impact on all around. So I feared we would be battling our way through thousands atop the Great Wall as music blared, people hassled you to buy souvenirs and others forced cameras into the girls faces.

But as we stepped off the chairlift and got slapped by the icy wind on top of the hill – everything just fell away. We were alone save a few other souls, the sky was as blue as I have ever seen and suddenly, just like that we were there. I love these moments when I finally visit a place of huge historical significance. I feel this strange out of body sensation that I am simultaneously looking at a photo from an old school text book and also looking out from that photo. It is mesmerising.

Then of course we were blessed with one of the most magical days I have seen in many many months. It all came down on me together – the whole trip, walking on top of history, the air, the mountains, how far we were from home and just how gob smackingingly beautiful the whole scene was. I just kept walking along saying “wow! wow! wow!”

I won’t write much more. It is late – Mel is asleep across the room, the girls passed out all sun kissed and wind weathered and I need to sleep. One more day in China tomorrow and I do believe that the vote got cast for a “movie marathon”. We were going to go to the cinema but the only movie appropriate for the girls is in Chinese so they took the lesser option of movies on my computer. Admin, washing, picking up tickets and I may even try to get some Mongolian money. Come to think of it I don’t even know what money they use in Mongolia.

All I know is that we step off the train on Sunday afternoon after about 26 hours – into a city whose current daily MAXIMUM temperature is minus 13 degrees celsius. Overnight is minus 29. I don’t know even know what that means let alone what it feels like. I thought you just dropped dead when you walked outside in those temperatures – though I am sure my Canadian friends are probably laughing at me right now. A few days in Mongolia and then we are shifting modes to European travel.

So fast…so very fast….

(PS. China censors Facebook – amongst other things – so apologies from Mel and me that we have not responded to any messages and especially birthday wishes left for us on there. I blame censorship not slackness)


  1. Goose bumpy. Your glorious photographs, the impression on you of the Wall and the Warriors and Pingyao. It all comes flooding back to us like it was yesterday. This is such a treat! Thank you! I hope you continue to feed my memories and treat yourselves to Tallinn after Russia…! Oh that first gasp of Europe! Too many exclamation marks, here are three more!!!

    • So glad it’s all coming back to you Helen. My uncle was Estonian so we will likely visit Tallinn. Looking forward to our first gasp of Europe! We’ll keep you posted x

  2. Sitting at the park at ocean grave. Day off school. Live the photos. Hello from Finn and grandma

  3. Hi there from a ‘new’ Canadian friend! I’m a fellow Outward Bound-er and stumbled across your blog. I have thoroughly enjoyed following your musings thus far. I smile with every read. Thank you. Stay warm!

    • Hi Tammy
      Thanks for the note. Nice to have a fellow OB-er who is watching on. I am sure many of the sentiments seem very very OB like and familiar. I am summonsing up as much Canadian strength to get through the next phase of weather. I just don’t know how to tackle temperature like this! Take care. Matt

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