Started walking at about eleven o’clock. Had a solid breakfast in my stomach and 3 litres boiling hot water in my rucksack. Also half a litre of Bing Hong Cha – or Ice tea.
Due to the cold (Cough cough cold. Not Brrrr brrrr) I was breathing through my mouth the entire day. Hope it gets better soon.
The terrain today was desert with at times dense scrubs up to one and a half metres high. The Great Wall was buried in sand dunes more often than it was visible. I saw something and was fooled and walked too far south. It turned out to be a distant watchtower behind the actual Wall.
The greatest experience of the day was definately when I saw a magnificent Great Wall watchtower that had a rammed earth core, and bricks on every side. The brick wall was about 40 cm thick and even formed some window like shapes at the top. In one corner part of the brick wall had fallen down exposing the core. This is the best naturally preserved watchtower I have seen so far and was a great experience to see 🙂
The change of temperature has given me some unexpected challenges. A top down approach: First there is a layer of snow. It is only a few cm thick, and only on the slopes facing northwards. Some places the snow covers scrubs ten to twenty cm above the ground. This makes it hard to guess when the foot lands and made me almost fall a couple of times. There is ice under the snow sometimes.
Then the sand. Regardless of whether there is snow above, some places the humidity on top of the sand has frozen and turned to very slippery ice.
So, when walking down a slope there were a lot of possibilities of falling. Half the time I must have looked like a drunken man walking the Great Wall!
As you may have guessed, I’m not sitting in the tent now. It would have been too cold to write this much. Towards the end of the walk I got to a road and flagged down a guy and asked if he knew of any (very) simple accommodation. He offered to drive me about 4 kilometres south to a small village where I have got a (very) simple room for the night.
Am sitting in a small local restaurant now with a coal fire in the middle and a screaming young mischievous boy running around keeping everybody busy. A wonder that he hasn’t approached the fire yet, but he’s probably done that already and learnt his lesson.
(Later) Sitting in bed with my fantastic four season sleeping bag around my legs. After dinner I was an English teacher for four girls and a boy for three quarters of an hour. No spelling though! Only oral excercises. One of the girls lives there with her Grandmother – the owner of this guesthouse. It seems pretty common for children to live with their grandparents while their parents perhaps work in another town.
22 kilometres today