Great Wall at Simatai 3

    Down the other side of the mountain we came, out of the snow, and into seemingly endless road that was going nowhere. We even passed a small section of the Great Wall that we identified as Huanghua. At that point we were moving along a little river. There was a small dam with a footpath across the top, which was so narrow and unprotected that it seemed to me very easy for someone to fall off. On the other side was a small, steep section of unreconstructed wall with a thin line of hardy folk making their way along it. But it was Simatai or bust for us, so we didn't stop. A little farther along we had to stop, though for we collectively had no clue. Here are a few pictures of that stop.

It was just a little turn in the road, hardly more. There was a tiny souvenir shop and something that may have passed for a restaurant. And there was this beautiful sign describing the local nature ara. I couldn't resist capturing it, especially since didn't know whether any of it had to do with our intended section of the Great Wall. (It didn't.)

There's the sign in the background. Here are Jinghua and the driver discussing our plight with a minibus driver. Yes, Jinghua is holding in her hand a book—Gail's guidebook for Beijing, to be exact—that also had a road map of the area. That shows that things work the same way in China as in America—the girls read the maps and the guys get the scoop directly from other guys. The upshot of this conversation was that we were on the right road but still far from Simatai. Eventually we found out just how far—we had to first reach Miyun, then go another 55 km to Simatai. The third side of our neat triangle was getting contorted fast.

This is the little river that was dammed up back by Huanghua.

This is the little restaurant.

Naturally, all this driving required more gasoline (and more directions).

Another view of the gas station.

You don't pump your own gasoline in China, even if you drive a taxi. They have to keep as many people as possible employed.

These are the mountains in the distance, as seen from the gas station. Somewhere up there, just maybe, was the Great Wall at Simatai.

We made it. The Great Wall at Simatai did not disappoint. Can you believe that sight? This illustrates how the planners so long ago wisely decided to gain the maximum advantage from the relatively low wall by positioning it along the top of the highest ridge. The Mongolian invaders, after first struggling up the steep mountains, would then get hit by the wall and give up (or so the theory went). I only know that if I had been a Mongolian warrior, I would have given up!

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