Day 1: The Great Wall

When I saw that we had to wake up by 9:00 AM today, I panicked; after a five-hour layover and 14-hour flight with minimal sleep, I did not expect myself to wake up the day of the Great Wall visit, and if I did, it would be sluggish.

Luckily, forcing myself to stay up until 10:00 PM the night before proved to minimize the jetlag. It helped that upon waking a gourmet breakfast of an amalgam of western and eastern foods awaited. After an hour and a half bus ride outside of the city, we were greeted by more food: authentic Chinese lunch! After having the real deal, it’s going to be hard to eat its American imitation again.

With all the food I consumed in the span of a few hours, I felt energized and ready to scale the famed wall. Little did I know, I would also be scaling the Great Steps.

I figure myself to a fairly fit individual—at least capable of climbing stairs, but this was a workout no gym could imitate. Words do no justice in describing the arduous climb. By the time we reached the top I was laced in a coat of sweat, fighting for air. It was worth the trek.

The wall certainly deserves the moniker of “great.” It was a sight I will never forget. Seeing the expanse of the mountains stretch into the horizon was awe-inspiring, and to see man leave its mark across this land, conquering terrain and engineering constraints, left a pride in humanity and its ambition rivaled by none other.

It’s funny too, the idea of the Great Wall, its history, its dimensions, the marvel of it, was so ingrained in my imagination, and I figured I had an idea of what to expect when I went there, but nothing could truly prepare me for its grandeur.

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