CSA's Great Wall Camping Trip from a Chinese perspective

Screen Shot 2016 08 17 at 10.59.42“不到长城非好汉”("bù dào chángchéng fēi hǎohàn") 

“He who has never been to the Great Wall is not a true man.”

Chinese people, young and old, have heard this Mao Zedong quote many times. So, climbing the Great Wall of China became a must-do for everyone (who comes to Beijing). This isn’t surprising. Who wouldn’t want to be a true man (or women)? But, most sections of the Wall that Chinese visit are restored and easy to reach. So from pictures, I had in my mind that all I would see is many many people. Is it that easy to be a true man?




1. When my friends found out that I was going to an unrestored section of The Great Wall, they were all very excited for me. They said  “好酷啊!”(“hǎo kù ā!”) “Woah, that’s really cool!” I believe most Chinese won’t refuse to go to the unrestored Great Wall in their hearts, but they seldom go. I believe there are two reasons for this. The first one is that they lack the spirit to explore things. As soon as they see the no climbing sign at the base of the mountain they turn back. The second is that there is no convenient way to go to there. No direct train or bus. It makes the unadventurous Chinese less less likely to go.

13697267 10154116980870862 7672854130902546952 n2. We set off from Wǔdàokǒu 五道口. After about three hours we arrived at our destination: the base of the Jiankou Great Wall 箭扣长城(Jiànkòu chángchéng). Here we enjoyed a lunch in a farm village. All the food was very fresh. But what confused me is that some people drank coffee while they had lunch. How strange is that! It’s already hard for most of the Chinese to accept coffee, so meals and coffee is definitely a terrible pairing for them.

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 3. Before we climbed up to the wall a CSA student found a new friend on a farm. He talked to a goose as if he knew their language. 

I saw a very very cute goat. 






Screen Shot 2016 08 11 at 16.25.35 4. In my friend group, I think that I am the one who likes sport the most, but with heavy backpacks, the first part of the climb was really hard for me. I wanted to give up before half way. But what surprised me is that nearly no one complained nor required rest. When I stopped for a little, others encouraged me to continue. I think Chinese students eally need more regular exercise. 









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5. Once we reached the campsite, we left our things and continued to higher, more exciting places. During this I noticed that foreigners have more knowledge about climbing than most Chinese. Although the Great Wall can seem very dangerous, if you climb sensibly then you won’t get into trouble.










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6. After we finished collecting firewood, a village restaurant delivered our dinner. Since they lived there for their whole life, what took us two hours to climb they only had to spend 45 minutes, and had a good attitude about it. One old man even took the initiative to help us collect firewood.


7. After sunset, David took out biscuits, chocolate, and marshmallows. It was my first time to make s'mores! How exciting! They were quite fun to make, and wonderful to eat!







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8. When it was fully dark, we had the 

most special surprise. Austin prepared the movie projector and we began to watch a Kung Fu movie on the wall! One amazing movie + 21 interesting people + a warm and bright fire = a wonderful night.


9. After having a quiet chat we all went to our own sleeping bags excited for a nice rest.  






 10. As morning arrived on the wall we began a Tai Chi lesson. Everyone paid careful attention to the teacher. After the lesson, the teacher's son showed us Kung Fu. 










Interesting, thrilling, different, and special -- that’s how I feel about this trip. Persistence, helpfulness, and cooperation -- that’s what I learned on this trip. It refreshed my feelings about the Great Wall, the ones who built it and the amazing nature. Anyway, I found it was

2000 percent worth going!  

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 In-Depth-China   CSA-blog


     Written By Xiaoyan Kong - CSA Summer Intern 
     Xiaoyan comes from Anhui province. 
     She's interested in cultural differences and is eager to discover more about the world.
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