We arrived at the Great wall (A Unesco World Heritage site). We listened to stories of the wall told by our guide. Over a half million died in its construction, with most being buried in the wall itself. Moreover, construction started in the third century BC and continued through 16th century. For over a thousand years various emperors put soldiers on it and added to the fortifications. It could be seen with the naked eye from space, and is a symbol of Chinese power, industry, and pride.
As we climbed to top of the wall we had two choices. Up a slight incline crowed with people experiencing the great wall, or up a very steep section that only had a few people. The choice was simple.
We scaled up the steep narrow section alternating looks over the Chinese landscape and the Gobi desert. Escaping the crowds in China provided a rare treat. I especially wanted to avoid the crowds given my main goal for the day.
She didn’t know, but today was the day. I kept the ring hidden through customs and through the weeks of travel together. I checked it at every chance to ensure it wasn’t stolen or lost. Many times during our bus or taxi rides, I’d sit with my hands folded on the ring. I let them talk away, and I zoned out, focused on mustering the courage to ask Sharleen to be my wife.
Nearly a half mile of walking we came up on a shrine on the south side of the wall. A couple was just leaving. I fumbled with my knife to cut a piece of orange. I gave a piece to distract her and then quickly tried to extricate the ring from its hiding place. She turned and I dropped to a knee and asked to be my wife.
She was stunned, but overjoyed. I’m sure that time does not slow down, but I became acutely aware of every moment as it passed before she said yes. I heard the wind rushing. I saw her eyes tear up. I felt my heart pound.
The 10,000 li (1 li ≅ 500 meters) curling dragon barricades the distant border.
The horses of 1,000 springtimes bound through the solid gold land.
Love our China; love our Great Wall.
We both walked back to the bus a little starry-eyed. A great journey lie before us.
The next day we visited Summer Palace which was newly crowned a Unesco World Heritage Site. We cruised around the buildings and learned that much of the site was in use continuously from 1150AD to the 1920s. Since we were at a royal site, we thought it was only fitting that we dress accordingly. I don’t know why the chair was so big. Perhaps people were heavier in early China.