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Tag: han dynasty

Gansu Province’s Incredible Great Walls and Silk Road Sites: Part II

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I’m a mountain guy, I decided, after just a few hours in the outskirts of the Gobi desert. It was hot, and blowy, the Great Wall we were following was practically impossible to see, and the ground beneath us was parched and covered in huge salt pans. Give me a goat track, I thought. A ridge ripped by a cold wind from Siberia, and a Ming wall I can actually see. But my friend Chinoook is made of sterner stuff (though I give him a run for his money on my home turf). Out ahead, he led the way through the salt pans towards a brown smudge on the horizon. “There’s the wall”, he promised. I squinted. “Sure it is”, I thought skeptically. But he was right. Just meters off a salt pan they could have used as a set for Mordor in the Lord of the Rings, stood an enormous, multi-tiered wall – a giant layer cake two thousand years old.

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Gansu Province’s Incredible Great Walls and Silk Road Sites: Part I

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This is a story about the Great Wall, but even more than that it’s a story about a guy I know who’s really, really into the Great Wall. Yes, I know I’m into the Wall – every second entry on this blog is about it – but I am nothing more than a young, naive Luke Skywalker to this guy’s Yoda. In May 2013 I joined him on an expedition to explore obscure, remote parts of the wall out in Gansu Province, as far west as historical China extended during the Han and Ming dynasties. In a week with Yoda, I would climb a rockface, navigate by night, gather Han potsherds, thumb rides by the side of the freeway, and eat stir fried gizzards. I also learned a lot about the Great Wall, and made a good friend.

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