The Great Wall of China is one of those things I always hoped I would see one day, but was never quite sure if I would. One thing I certainly didn’t expect was that when I did actually get to see it I’d be dressed as a rampaging Mongol.
After a 3 hour drive into the increasingly lush and mountainous countryside we found ourselves at a typically large and ostentatious tourist centre. We unloaded all our kit and joined the steady stream of tourists to the cable car, where we got our first proper glimpse of the wall on the way up. I was expecting it to be massive, but you don’t really comprehend what the scale of it will be until you see it. The section we were going to be filming on sits right on top of the mountain ridge and follows the line of it’s natural meander, crazily twisting back and forth. It was at least 2,000km from East to West and took centuries to build, and I really can’t comprehend how they did it. Just getting the stone up there in the first place would have been a feat in itself.
As soon as we arrived Naomi got into her Chinese Emperor costume and headed off with the crew to start her section of our song, all about the Chinese building the wall and me trying to break in. I took a walk up with them and once I found myself standing on top (it’s about the width of a single track road) I was even more blown away by it all. You can see for miles into the mountains of what used to be Mongolia, and an equally long distance into the farmed valleys of what was Ancient China. You could see that the steps of the wall get quite steep at points so that you’re nearly walking down it vertically. It’s just crazy that anyone ever attempted it and even crazier that they pulled it off.
Once I’d done a bit of marvelling I made my way back through the crowds to the one bit of shade we’d managed to find – a bench right outside a wiffy toilet. We ended up eating our sandwiches there too before I finally had to climb into my furry Mongol costume (not a moment I’d been looking forward to since the temperature was in the mid 30s). I sweated my way through the next 2 and a half hours, and was very appreciative of the occasional tourist stopping to exclaim that they couldn’t believe I was wearing that “on a day like this”. It made me feel like a children’s TV hero.
The last cable car leaves at 5.30pm, so we didn’t really get a chance to take any personal photos in the gorgeous sunset light as we rushed to the station. Just as we reached the entrance we realised that sitting right next to it was a lovely little cafe with tables and chairs under shady trees – certainly more salubrious than the toilet we’d been camped out next to. Oh well, at least I know it’s there next time!