Courtesy of a 3GPP business meeting, I was lucky enough to execute my first trip to Beijing, China some years ago.
At that year and at that age travelling to China was like embarking to a trip to Neptune. China was still an undiscovered country – or to put it better – an under-discovery (sic) country, for the average traveller, and the main places to visit were Beijing or Xi’an (which I visited a couple of years later) and some other still-in-their-infancy places that were going to become famous in the coming years like Shanghai!
Three were the highlights of the business meeting.
The first was an exquisite social event / dinner, in a restaurant that served food from South West China that started with a very humble and shy chit chat and ended after midnight while dancing on the tables in the rhythms of exotic music. Not very often one can participate in such events and since then it is truly considered one of the best.
The second was a visit to the Beijing attractions, namely Tiananmen square and the Forbidden City and of course small shopping areas for some memorabilia and other Chinese … offerings!
Still, by far the third and best highlight was what one would expect – the visit to the Great Wall of China.
It was a sunny day and after we hopped on the buses and a jolly good ride we made it to the main “entrance” of the Great Wall, as if the Great Wall is like a museum with a main entrance and exit.
Of course you can read scores of lines in the internet and Wikipedia about The Great Wall of China and I am sure that in the far future virtual reality technologies will let you see, feel and touch the Great Wall without moving an inch from your couch, but I have to truly say that it is only when you step on and walk on the stones and watch on your right and left the endless walls extending … infinitely to the East and West, that you feel this sublime, transcendent and imposing feeling and find yourself stare in awe to this magnificent piece of engineering and human creation.
I found a nice corner, away from the morning hustle and bustle of the tourists, and let my imagination run wild. I thought of the hordes of Mongols coming down to those walls from the North. I imagined the Chinese warriors practicing in the area. I imagined those lonely Chinese warriors patrolling on those walls during those cold and… inhospitable nights! I imagined those thousands of workers sweating day and night for thousands of days to complete this piece of art.
Later i met the small group of colleagues and we walked for a while exchanging openly and loudly our thoughts. We took some photos, got a drink to cool down our thirst and slowly made it back to the buses.
We left the Great Wall of China with the best impressions. It was a short visit yet a visit that was enough to fill our souls and minds with special and unprecedented feelings.
I «ticked» my virtual checklist of places i intended to see in the “Great Wall of China” entry and wished the future will hold more special surprises for me.