Amsterdam view from Amsterdam Tower

Amsterdam view from Amsterdam Tower
The view from Amsterdam Tower

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Finding The Roots •• China •• Great Wall

“Kejarlah ilmu sampai negri Cina” seperti yang dikatakan oleh Guru SD saya.  Tidak hanya sekali, tetapi beliau mengatakannya beberapa kali dibeberapa kesempatan berbeda.

“Seek knowledge as far as China” my elementary school teacher said.  He said it not only once, but a few times in different occasions.

Why China? My silly imagination answers: the Great Wall is visible from the Moon or low earth orbit, China has ancient history in medicine and art, maybe it is because they have their own language which characters are difficult to learn.
Love this pic #instagram
I was born in Indonesia and parents were also born there. Only when I grew up I realized that I have more than half Indonesian Chinese blood than Indonesia Javanese. I have more oriental look, comparing to my siblings.

Despite my look, I grew up in Indonesian Javanese culture. Bahasa Indonesia is my mother tongue. My parents and their big family do not speak Chinese. Grandpa spoke Dutch with grandma.

I know a few words in Chinese dialects (Hokien) that are commonly used to bargain in Indonesia. We can hear this everywhere in Glodok or China town; ce-pek (100) and se-ceng (1,000). But I have to think harder for much bigger numbers such as go-ban (50,000). I couldn’t even recall that ce-pek-ceng means 100,000! LOL

Recently, I visited China… where my ancestors might come from… centuries ago…

Streets on the way to the Great Wall

The Great Wall

Thanks to my friend, Madame Eva, I get Xiaowei's details as recommended tour guide in Beijing. So there he was picking me up at 7am and we drove to Mutianyu Great Wall. That's my friend’s recommendation, Fitri told me to go to Mutianyu. Iya deh…

The 7am traffic at the ring road was already heavy. After having passed the hectic ring roads and toll road, we reached the outer suburb. 

Xiaowei offered a local dish for breakfast. It's something like sunny side up egg wrapped in martabakskin, together with crunchy fried dumpling skin, sour taste of sauce and chives. Martabakis pancake or pan-fried bread commonly found in South Asian countries. My conclusion, the egg and fried crunchy dumpling skin are yummy...

Local omellette

Mutianyu apparently attracts more foreign visitors.  Domestic visitors prefer Badaling for some reasons - nearer to the city?  Mao Zedong climbed Badaling Great Wall and left some words: Who we are if we cannot reach the Great Wall?  Definitely there are lots of people taking pics here.

I had no regreat going to Mutianyu.  It was less crowded - it means peaceful atmosphere.  It was still quiet when we arrived at 8.30 am.

Cable car

Cable car was  fun! This is the reason why Fitri told me to go to Mutianyu… going up with cable car and sliding down with Toboggan.  It's a good strategy to save the energy…

Public toilet inside the complex

  • Must wear comfortable stuff; walking shoes, t-shirt, hat, sunglasses,
  • Arrive early to avoid the crowd and sun,
  • Pee before climbing up -J  Decent public toilet near the ticket office,
  • Drink water,
  • Bring camera, smile and enjoy the walk!

That's where I went, red circle

Xiaowei has been touring many visitors to the Great Wall.  In average, he goes there once a week.  

“Look, this is the trek we're about to take.  There are six gates and we will start from gate 6 to 1.  Do you see that last gate there? That's gate no 1.  We would pass it, then I'd take you to another gate after that.  Do you see that other gate with lots of wild plants?  That's where we're going".

What a challenge.  It looks soooooo far ...  not to mention that the stairs are going down and up… Chúa ơi…

Peeping the Wall from the window

My mind wandered around too much, Great Wall, huh? Wow…

The wall was built centuries ago under the rules of several dynasties.  What would the first Emperor say if he knew that the wall he had constructed became gigantic?  How many labour was deployed to build this place?

One of the gate door
Each gate has different size and function.  One is bigger and has more rooms.  This was the room for the General if he came to visit and check his troops.  Other gate is smaller and has many pillars inside.  Some gates are built with more solid bricks, it’s because this area was crucial for the battle.

Interior part of one of the gates
The bricks at the bottom and upper part of the wall vary.   It is simply because the wall has been rebuilt, maintained, enhanced, etc. 

Xiaowei explained that the bricks and cements were from the local areas.  The wall at one region is different from the other part of China depending on the local materials.

Some part of the stairs going down @ Great Wall

Slowly but surely, I went down and up the stairs.  We talked about history of the Great Wall, and take pics of course -J  There is one spot where I took the same pics with all of my cameras!  Xiaowei commented; “You took pic of the same view with your big camera, pocket camera, blackberry and iphone?” My self-defence response; “It’s not an iphone, it’s an ipod!”

Xiaowei is so passionate on what he is doing.  With the assistance of his girlfriend, he has been touring and arranging transportation for tourists in the last six years.  He does tailor-made the tours based on clients requests.  Most of his clients are from the US. 

We had good chat about Beijing, traffic, subway, favourite tourist destinations, etc., including if I would prefer Beijing or Shanghai.  This part, I could only respond if I would have visited that city in next few days.

One of the gates that I didn't go further

We continued walking…. We passed one gate to another and finally arrived at gate no 1!  As promised, Xiaowei led the walk to another gate after gate no 1.  Bushes and bees were everywhere.  Then we arrived at the gate with many plants… the ruins of this gate are still in the shape… 

See the Chinese characters & the Wall all the way

At the top of that gate, all I wanted to do is to shout out loud "Aaaaa.......... ".  "You could do better than that" Xiaowei said. I continued "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa..............!!!" louder and longer till I had no more breath. 


After having a tough ‘exercise’ climbing up, returning to cable car terminal was piece of cake.

It is sliding time!  Riding the Toboggan is fun and of course faster than going down hundreds stairs.  This stuff is equipped with breaks too.  Just push it back to slow down while turning and stopping at the finish line!  Cool…

Riding the Toboggan

Just before I slide down in Toboggan, I looked back at the wall…  I was proud of myself.  It felt like “high school graduation” once more.  I conquered the Great Wall..!!  "No, you conquered yourself", Xiaowei said.  Mmm...

Graduation pic at the last gate. See long wall behind me!

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