The Great Wall

Nicholas Quirke was convinced he was being kidnapped and about to be trafficked in the white slave trade on March 1st. A mix up with the tour company had resulted in Nicholas getting up at 5.30 in morning, receiving strange messages about a contradictory meeting place and time and discovering he’d been assigned a completely different guide, Tina. Her demand he pay $800 before they left made him realise something had gone wrong. For the first time on his Odyssey he discovered ire and heard his voice escalate in volume and rage. It was an infuriatingly early start for nothing. He returned to his room to await the arrival of Alex and from 8.45 am he started to have the day he should have had. Alex was waiting and they began the drive to The Great Wall Of China. The smog had lifted and it looked like being a beautiful sunny day, though he was seriously wrapped up for the mountains and was back in his North American wear. There were stops along the way and the first was a Jade factory where he watched a craftsman execute his detailed and exquisite work but shades of Murano and the glass factory flooded into his mind so he was on his steely guard. The next stop was the Sacred Path, Shendoah, which was a beautiful avenue along which the dead Ming Emperors were carried to their burial place and a place where Mao had gone for reflective study. Filled with stories from Alex of The Dynasty and their excesses the next port of call was to one of the Emperors mausoleums including a visit to the underground palace where Emperor Dingling was laid to rest with his Empress and their treasures. He learnt to his horror, that the Emperors concubines had to kill themselves when he died and they were buried around the the foothills. The journey to the Great Wall continued through the mountains and the scenery was beautiful. They stopped for lunch and Nicholas, on his guard now, questioned the bill and discovered they had tried to cheat him. After a walk and a shuttle bus the climb to the Mutianyu section of the wall was made easier by a cable car. But once at the first beacon steps the full rigour of what he was about to embark on became apparent. Had he been told how arduous the climb was, had he not listened to anyone who had made the journey, clearly not. Mao called anyone who had walked the wall a hero, and that is certainly what he felt like. The landscape was astonishing, the Mongolian mountains beautiful and the wall stretched into infinity. It was thrilling but it was hard work spending two hours walking the steep undulating construction. It was a good 2 hour drive back to Beijing so he was taken straight to the Liyuan Theatre for some Beijing Opera. It was vibrant, colourful and the skill of the artists was phenomenal. He finally got home and Wei who had offered to act as guide on his trip to the Xian was waiting for him to put the final plan in place. It had been a very long day, and Nicholas was glad, once Wei had left to go to bed.




  1. OMG you did it, you walked the wall. Absolutely amazing. Nicholas you are my hero. I’m bursting with pride for you and also very envious. This is by far my most favourite part of the Odyssey xxx

  2. Haha, I knew you hadn’t walked the whole wall, I would have flown out to congratulate you if you had 😂😂 What an experience, I hope to be able to do it myself some day xxxx

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