Monday, 8 June 2015

My Great Wall

Next week construction begins on a project set to rival the Great Wall of China.

More than eight years in the making, the rotten and rickety lattice fencing around some units at my apartment building will be replaced with proper timber fencing.

This fencing is unlikely to be seen from space... but then again apparently neither is the Great Wall of China.

Given the time and energy it has taken to get the project to this stage, you can forgive me for comparing a dozen or so metres of timber fencing to the 8,850km of structures that comprise the Great Wall of China.

After all, to get here it's sometimes felt as though I've been climbing metaphorical mountains with stone bricks in hand.

Surely building the Great Wall of China was a much simpler task that didn't require herding other owners, mustering tradesmen for quotes, navigating body corporates or extracting funding?

While there will be a great sense of accomplishment when "my wall" is completed, I suspect it won't be quite as awe-inspiring as the one in China.

I've been fortunate to visit the Great Wall twice, with each visit as memorable as each other.  It's one of the few big ticket tourist icons that is better than you imagine it to be.

Sure you can take a gondola to the top (as those tourists who wisely wore high heels did), but to fully appreciate the work of the wall's makers, I chose the stairs.   It's a surprisingly easy climb given how high up you feel when you're walking along the wall.

Naturally you see glimpses of the wall from below as you approach it, but once on the wall itself you can see how it snakes its way along the mountain ridges.

You can almost imagine it's the spine of a gigantic sleeping dragon that stretches far off into the horizon, regularly punctuated by tall watch towers.

Despite its fame and popularity, it's surprisingly easy to to find a quite patch of wall for yourself and quietly contemplate how daunting it must have appeared for invading monguls on the other side.

And if you're lucky, you may even escape Beijing's smog and catch a glimpse of the horizon.

Even though I'm on one of the "restored" sections of the wall, crumbling stonework, uneven ground and some pretty high stair tread depths reaffirm that this wall has withstood centuries of weather, hostile attacks and some fairly basic construction techniques.

Needless to say, I can only hope my great wall will last just a fraction of this time.

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