Postcard from a Great Wall

Another postcard from a Great Wall by guest contributor Damien Kinney.

'We didn’t sleep very well. We couldn’t get comfortable,' I say to the farmer whose terraced fields we have walked down. 'No sleep, eh? No, it's not very comfortable up there', he points out dreamily, sitting up on a slab of stone. He grins with good humour at our plight and I want to believe the idea that the mountains breed a more sympathetic kind of individual. He is helpful: there would be a bus to take us back towards Beijing, he tells us, but not until we hit the highway a thirty-minute walk further on.

We are well up to the task, despite having just been lashed by eight hours of rain on an exposed ridge. Nothing more than sleeping bags and each other, in the spooning position, for warmth, on a section of the Wall beaten back into the earth by the centuries. Knees tucked behind shivering knees. None of us had considered the possibility of rain or invested in a tent, even after receiving advice not to sleep in a watchtower. A den of rodents and other wildlife, we were told. Yet the rawness of this true 'night out' is rejuvenating. And so is this: standing there, I listen to the calm, and absorb the simple rain-soaked beauty of the hamlet in the early morning, and realize that if we weren’t friends before last night, we are now.

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