Visiting Beijing without visiting the Great Wall of China would be incomplete and one cannot truly claim to have visited the capital city of China. The Great Wall of China was built more than two thousand years ago at tremendous cost to human sacrifice in terms of sweat, blood and lives. Unfortunately after years of neglect and effects of exposure to natural elements as well as theft, this marvelous Unesco Heritage Site might be in danger of disappearing further. Another contributing factor to the dilapidating state of this man-made construction marvel is tourism. Yes, you heard it right, tourism.
We visited Beijing some five year’s ago during a winter holiday and were brought to a tourist attraction on the Great Wall in the north of the capital. It was freezing cold during winter in December and yet the whole place was packed with tourists. It was one of the highlights of our tour in Beijing where this location no doubt basked in glorious beauty and full of historical grandeur of the Chinese civilization.
However, ascending this monumental marvel was a different story. The steps up the wall were uneven with some steeper than others and it was so difficult to climb the stairs to reach the tower. With visitors climbing up and down the narrow stairs and some tourists stopping to take pictures along the way, we didn’t even succeed in climbing up to the first tower in the freezing cold. Coming back down the steps was even more treacherous due to the absence of proper hand rails on the flights of uneven stairs. Furthermore with visitors pushing their ways up and down impatiently at times, this increased the risk of falling during descend and hence contributing to a slower descend and more congestion on the flight of stairs.
It was so crowded during a cold winter day and imagine if it is was under more favourable condition during summer and autumn, it would be a shoulder to shoulder situation on the stairs up the wall to the tower and to the top of the wall. Human congestion on the touristy site beginning at the Great Wall Gate would be unthinkable, not to mention smelling of stinking sweats of others at close range unbearable. Being driven up the wall would take on a literal meaning in every sense of the word. With China’s huge population, domestic tourists could easily exceed that of foreigners visiting this historical site.
So the next time should you visit the Great Wall of China, appreciate the significance of this man-made structure and help preserve this Unesco Heritage Site. Hopefully, you won’t find yourself visiting during a time where human traffic outweigh your enjoyment of this one of the well known wonders of the world.
While the Great Wall we visited five year’s ago looked pretty well maintained, this might not be the case now. The recent report that the Great Wall of China is disappearing is disheartening.
Perhaps introducing measures to prevent further decay to this important historical structure is timely. With effective enforcement to such regulative measures to protect the Great Wall of China, this might help alleviate the current state of the wall and ensure future generation would be still able to enjoy this tourist site of great historical significance.