Having drawn the Great Wall of China for the Comic Strip History of the World, I wanted to see the real thing. One free morning in Beijing before I left for London – but the cold and foggy conditions were not ideal for Wall-viewing. Hadn’t experienced weather like this since my childhood in the Midlands. It was the sort of fog which made your eyes feel gritty, and visibility was not good. A hire car and driver took four of us to the Wall at Mutianyu, 90km north-east of the city. The young Norwegian writer behind me looked as if she was going to throw up any second. She did, later, but luckily not while I was present.
There was a bactrian and ice and some seedy looking stalls. We took a cable car and off we went, whooshing up through the icy fog. I love fairground rides so this was rather fun. The Norwegian girl looked very, very white.
This section of Wall was built in the 14C but heavily renovated in the 1980s. Occasionally guard towers loomed out of the freezing mist, in one of which lurked a man selling a few Snickers bars out of a cardboard box. We didn’t stay long. I have no idea how high up we were, but I began to feel breathless, and cross that all my photos were rubbish. After our descent got cussed by Mongolian trader.
She was selling vastly overpriced knick-knacks and mistook my actually not really wanting to buy anything for Western greed and cunning, so I got a bargain (I think).