Sunday, May 06, 2012

Item From the Past: Mutianyu

Terrific thunderstorms late this morning and early in the afternoon, while we were out and after we got home. May has turned warmish and wet, to contrast with April's dry and cool, and March's summertime preview. Thunder continues to rumble off in the distance even now.

The Nixons went to the Great Wall of China at Badaling. We went to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall in May 1994, mere weeks after Nixon died, though I'm certain that counts as a coincidence. I've forgotten why we made that choice, but it was an impressive pile of stones, about 50 miles from Beijing. Most of the pictures I've seen capture the arc of the wall as it makes its way atop a wooded ridge, and there's no arguing with fine vistas like that. But the wall has its charms closer up, too.

Little-mentioned in the tourist literature is this stone, not original to the 6th century structure or the Ming reconstruction. It says in German, Chinese and English, besides world peace boilerplate, "In gratitude for the help provided by the Henkel-Group, Düsseldorf, in restoring this section of the wall. Beijing, 1989." Solidarity among socialist nations is fine and dandy, but when you want help restoring a prized historic site and hard-currency earner, hire some West German engineers.

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