At Shanhaiguan, the Great Wall of China meets the sea. The name of the city literally means "the pass
between the mountain and the sea". The wall extends from here along its 5,500 mile journey, snaking and
branching across China to the western province of Xinjiang. It was at Shanhaiguan in 1644 that the Qing armies
of the north were let through, in the belief that they would side with one of the warring factions of the
Ming dynasty. Instead, the Qing defeated them both and proceded to rule China until 1911.
Shanhaiguan was not far from Tianjin where I happened to be living at the time, so we headed up on a Friday night
train after work. We stayed in a brand new Chinese hotel which was excellent value, in spite of the strange
arrangement of plate glass between the bedroom and the bathroom. It was a summer weekend but the weather was quite
misty, and not exactly great for sitting on a beach.
Through the mist we could just make out the wall as it headed up the first mountain encountered
since rising from the sea.
Large sections of the wall were restored in the 80s, but some parts remain overgrown and crumbling
as they have been for hundreds of years.
In spite of its proximity to the sea, the wall heads up some very steep hills very quickly. This
made Shanhaiguan a great place for a fortified pass.
Chilling out on the wall. Endless fun with a camera.
It being Asia, it wasn't long before we chanced upon a Buddhist monastery.
I liked the look of this blue warrior dude.
Back in the town of Shanhaiguan itself. The old city sits in a square-walled section of
Great Wall, but much of the interior has recently been redeveloped to look "olde-worlde" again.
This is the south gate.
Relief starts taking the light rain.
The centre of old Shanhaiguan, I guess a drum tower or bell tower of some sort. It was all a bit
austere and sterile since the renovations, there didn't seem to be as much life as I'd expected.
Over at the north gate, you could sit yourself on a horse and get a picture like the
Lone Ranger for 5 kuai.
First Pass Under Heaven Gate or Tian Xia Di Yi Guan in Chinese, which for the benefit of those
unable to read Chinese characters, is in fact written backwards here.
This section of the wall was going like a fair, indeed you could even dress up as a
Chinese Communist Party soldier for a laugh. Yes, I did.
In the absence of actual fairground rides, there was a bloke playing crazy music on a
snake-charming flute, and hapless tourists were thrown about in a sedan chair in time. This is
like a pre-wedding ceremony for a bride-to-be.
A branch of the Great Wall butting right up onto the beach. Complete with marauding
Mongolians trying to make a break for it into China.
The wall follows the line of the beach for a few hundred yards. A pretty cool accessory
to have on your beach - the Great Wall of China.
I knew it was a top-class tourist destination when I saw the camel. See
for more camel-related tourism.
The newly married couples were once again out in force for photos, although I guess the weather
wasn't the best for it. The groom's eyes said it all - "wot you lookin' at?"
The Old Dragon's Head, the actual end (or start) of the Great Wall of China. It wouldn't be easy
getting an army round that, presuming they accounted for the tide going out. My best translation of the
sign is "China - Keep Out!"