Monday, 12 September 2016

tourist wasteland

capitalists pitching business ideas in china:
we can't own natural wonders. no one can buy a snow mountain or raging waterfall or the bluest of blue lagoons, but, and hear me out, what if we privatise the access to these locations. what if we buy the land around it and put a fence 3km away from X, and subject everybody to take our transport? the public will enter through our land which cost $$$, then take our bus directly to X which is $$$, if they want to do more activities or move within the vicinity they take our carts generating $$$. forget the locals and native land dwellers, they can pay too. i'm sure they don't pay for much else. wait that's savage, i'm so savage sorry. we can give the locals half price tickets one day a year provided they registered as a local at least one year prior. what do you say fellow business partners? i got five mistresses trying to extort money and 20 government officials waiting for my bribes so i need this project in motion immediately.
*characters and incidents portrayed above are fictitious. no identification with actual persons, places, buildings is intended or should be inferred.

Saturday, 3 September 2016


this is the first time i have seen the great wall of china on a clear day. i remember thinking all the previous times i have been: that the wall was just a set built an hour out of beijing with permanent fog pumped by a machine covering the rest up. things that shocked me upon actually being able to see more than a few bricks:
  • these bricks are not original (however if you keep walking as far as your feet will take you the rocks become ancient, and you'll need to hold on to life with every step up or down as the mountains slope on 70 degree angles more often than necessary; literally rock climb)
  • the wall extends and curves and scales every mountain top within sight (achingly magnificent and breathtaking, especially when you're unfit, out of water, and have to get back to your ride)
  • rubbish everywhere (bring a giant trash bag on your climb and save the planet if you can)
  • water is sold with an 1000% mark up on the wall (which is 10 RMB/1.5 USD for a bottle instead of 1 RMB/0.15 USD)
  • not 100% sure how mark ups work, is that really a 1000% mark up?
there are many sections of the wall across china that can be visited, this section is mutianyu. i wasn't planning to visit the great wall at all (one can only be disappointed so many times by a wonder of the world) but this was so. damn. cool. now i really want to visit all the other sections before erosion does.

final words:

do not enter via badaling (crowded)
do not enter via a 'main entrance' (expensive)
do not forget water (thirsty)

Thursday, 1 September 2016