The Great Wall
This post is gonna be religious, so be forewarned.
The main reason I wanted to go to Beijing, and to China in the first place, was to see the Great Wall of China.
After hours upon hours of researching the Great Wall, I learned that:
- It is not one Great Wall, but rather, multiple Great Walls. This is because some parts have been corroded over the years and are closed to tourism. Of the sections that are open to visitors, some are restored and others are not.
- The restored sections of the Great Wall are closer to Beijing, and like everywhere in China, they are very crowded. It is sometimes known as not the "Great Wall of China" but the "Great Wall of Tourists".
Keeping this in mind, I found the best alternative to the crowded Great Wall; a section that was wild, unrestored, and most of all, had no tourists. It was called Jiankou. To get to Jiankou, you have to take the subway to the bus station, take two buses, and then take a taxi to a small village, from where you hike for one hour until you finally reach the wall. Getting there is pretty complicated - that's probably why no one goes there.
I spent days researching this, because I really wanted to have an authentic Great Wall experience without tourists ruining my pictures. I had everything planned, I even knew the bus numbers, the name of the village, and everything. Furthermore, the weather for the day of our Great Wall visit was supposed to be sunny. Perfect!
I awoke at 5 am the morning of our Great Wall trip to the horrible noise of rain against the hostel window.
I got up and went to the hostel lobby to use the free computers to check the weather. Yup, rain. And it didn't say until what time. I began to use that time alone in the lobby to pray. I knew that God, of all people, knew how much I wanted to visit the Great Wall, how many hours I had put into researching, and how much I had my heart set on it.
Soon, my friends also woke up and joined me in the lobby. All of us had our hearts set on visiting the Wild Wall and had no backup plan. As we waited, we notice the rain begin let up. YES! It seemed as though the rain was beginning to stop, so we quickly got ready and started walking toward the subway station.
As we walked, I began to think. What if something happens on the Wild Wall? It isn't restored, there isn't anyone to help you, and plus, it just rained. What if something happens to me or my friends? Although I really wanted to go, I guess I would have preferred safety.
I prayed to God as we walked and told him to send a sign. We had a two hour journey ahead of us, and I would have rather have been stopped now than to have gone halfway, or to even arrive at the Wild Wall, only to realize that we couldn't climb on it. I needed a sign. If it wasn't God's will for us to go to Jiankou, then I prayed for an obstacle now, before we got any further.
As soon as I prayed that, the rain began to pick up. We reached the station, but we were drenched in rainwater, so we decided to turn back to our hostel. At the hostel, I prayed again. I thanked God for answering my prayer by making the rain pick up, sending a clear sign not to go to Jiankou. BUT, my sinful nature still really wanted to go to the Wild Wall. One sign wasn't enough.
We now had three options:
- Go to the Wild Wall (my #1 desire.)
- Go to the crowded, touristy wall closer to Beijing (Boo.)
- Not go to the Wall at all (Boooooooooooooooooooo.)
Even though God had sent a sign once, I didn't want all my research to go to waste. I told God that we were going to try for Jiankou again and that if he didn't want us to go, to send yet another obstacle. I apologized for asking for another sign, after he had so clearly sent one already. But, I reminded him that Gideon in the Bible asked for a sign twice, first by making the sheep skin wet and the grass dry, and then by making the sheep skin dry and the grass wet.
As soon as the rain would let down, we were going to try for Jiankou again. Hopefully, God would send another obsticle to make it clearer for us not to go. Before leaving, however, my friend asked to see a photo of the Wild Wall. I pulled it up on Google, and after seeing it, he said that maybe it would be better to avoid it, because the Wild Wall after rainfall would be dangerous.
I took that as my second sign. Although I was the motivator of the Wild Wall trip, my friend was now convincing me not to go. If my friend was trying to talk me out of it, I knew that we shouldn't be going.
We discussed our options, and decided that the only thing to do was to go to the restored and crowded wall near Beijing. As soon as the rain stopped, we got ready and left for the touristy wall. Obstacle-free.
Although I didn't want to go the touristy section, I was at total peace along the way. I was even smiling. I knew I was going to where God wanted me to be - which was not the Wild Wall. There is no better consolidation than to know you are where God wants you to be. Furthermore, my God is a God of love. He knows exactly how much I wanted to go to Jiankou and all the effort had I put into it. He respects my desires and takes them into consideration. I believe that because I listened to his voice, he will grant me the opportunity to visit the Wild Wall someday in the future.
Although I didn't want to go the restored section, it was all that bad. Probably because it had rained in the morning, there weren't as many tourists (although it was still pretty crowded at the entrance, which is in the middle of the wall). However, the further you go away from the entrance, toward the edges of the section, the less people you see. I guess because people are generally lazy and don't wanna walk a lot. Because of this, I was able to get my tourist-free photos like I wanted