Grand Voyages, Great Adventures
By suggestion of TigerLilly, who's been doing some traveling of her own lately: a place to talk about one's travel adventures (in the physical world!). Great road trips, the time you got a gig crewing on a yacht, your years in the Peace Corps, the time you walked the Great Wall... You get the idea!
I would suggest going to Simatai. It is about 1.5 hours from Beijing. Simatai still has the original walls unlike the spots closer to Beijing which has been rebuilt. You can actually play in the towers and cross through one of the trader gates into Hebei, or in other words the other side of the wall. You can actually see how it would have felt to attack the Wall etc. Very intimidating. You can hike down the wall about a mile and see where the Japanese made their official invasion which the Japanese made a point to break through the wall before they invaded Beijing. This part of the wall actually scales the top of the mountains so in some parts it is only 2-3 think and about 5 feet tall, but you would have to have a lot of balls to climb up the cliffs below. Pretty interesting and if anyone needs more info let me know as I would be happy to give some tips.
Anyone have any suggestions or tips?
I see we have the same tastes in adventuring! Off the beaten track! That tale is a one that is to be treasured! Nice for around the campfire to the grandkids or friends!
Are you kind?
and very well told. Felt like I was right there with you.
What a nice treat!
Conversation is always more interesting than recitation, so speak your mind and not someone else's.
Very cool story CB.
Did you find my precious while you were there?
If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.
Grate story, badger! It reminds me of another rabbit hole, I've traversed several times, except the brandy was another substance.
"I will walk alone, by the Black Muddy River and sing me a song of my own..."
Marumures is a regional of Romania famed for its beautiful landscapes, wooden houses and traditional folk culture. You can still visit fairytale wooden homes, where most everyday artefacts are made in the way they have been for centuries. People here are mainly orthodox Christians, and observe the ceremonies and festivals of that belief, wearing traditional costumes and singing ancient hymns known from nowhere else. Monasteries still thrive here, on one day we had a wonderful Lenten vegetarian lunch with the monks of a monastery perched high on a hill with a glorious view of the forested hills, framed by snowy mountains.
Our plan had been to hike up a forest valley, climb up the ridge, cross over into the next valley and hike back down. But recent snowfalls meant that it was impossible to get over the ridge, so our host came up with an alternative. He had heard that there was an old mine in the valley which was disused, but still maintained by the state mining company. He phoned to ask if it was possible to cross between the valleys underground! To our amazement the miners were delighted that someone wanted to visit; they had some ideas of turning their mine into a tourist attraction.
So there we stood, armed with flashlights, rubber boots and old mining helmets, outside the rusted metal door to a hole in the side of the hill. We nervously followed our guide inside, along old rail tracks inside a 10 foot high rock tunnel and soon the light disappeared. For three miles we walked through the heart of the mountain. Mostly the tunnel was in good condition but in places we had to climb over small collapses, under fragile looking wooden props and through flood waters. In side tunnels were the rusting remains of decades of dangerous endeavour; old rail cars, machinery and occasionally shafts down to the tunnels in levels below. People have been digging metal s out of this hill for over 500 years! We saw blue rocks of copper, crystals of leads and zinc studding the wall. It was dark damp and creepy and so exciting. From time to time, when the walls seemed to close in and I thought of the 3,000 feet of rock above my head, I found myself singing ‘Gotta get down to the Cumberland Mine, that’s where I mainly spend my time...’
After two and half hours in the cold and dark a tiny smudge of light on the tunnel wall told us we were near the end. We emerged, blinking in the light, through another rusted gate into a beautiful forested mountain valley still covered in snow. Our guides passed round a bottle of homemade plum brandy to celebrate.
We had walked through a mountain! But our journey was not over. For the next two hours we staggered down an unmarked trail sinking deep into the snow, following the trail of a solitary wolf that had passed that way a few hours earlier. Finally we reached a logging camp, where miraculously a barbecue lunch was waiting as well as more plum brandy. Then onto the final stage of the journey; 25 miles on the rickety but still functioning logging railway courtesy of an amazing contraption called Matilda, a VW minibus adapted to run on rail tracks. For an hour or more we slowly clattered along the rails through vast forest alongside a deep muddy rushing river, finally reaching town as dusk fell.
I've got lots of photos, but we have moved three times in the last three years and alas I am between darkrooms. We are getting settled in here and I am going to build one right away so that I can catch up on all kinds of work. I also have St. Helena, which is another island in the S. Atlantic. In the meantime, if you want to see some photos from somewhere else, to to this page:
and these are the photos I took on our trip to Coventry:
Any photos of Ascension? I'm always fascinated by the places less traveled. I've actually made a point of reading up on these strange islands scattered around various parts of the earth that most people never hear about let alone have the chance to visit. Often they have strange historical significance. Places where odd things may occur.
Are you kind?
I wrote this story while standing watch in the engine room of this ship that didn't go anywhere. It was kind of different. I got a bunch of reading and writing done. Anyway, we were sitting off of this little Island in the south Atlantic called Ascension Island. To go ashore I had to get off watch a little early, runupandshower, down through the galley, and catch a launch before it leaves at noon. Then a half hour ride to the pier head. Nobody drunk, everybody kind of stares at each other. The people from Ascension, Saints cause they are from St. Helena really, nobody is actually from Ascension, the Saints usually just smoke and joke around in their fast British drawl that might as well be as foreign a language as anything else. There is a nice Hatteras sport fisher moored out in the harbor, mostly old beaters otherwise....the air force has a nice governmentie looking fishing boat tied up out there. The water is clear blue, you've never seen anything like it. Yellow fish, thousands, and a break a long the beach called long beach off to the right of the pier head looks like it can't be real because nobody is surfing in it. There are two old guns half way up the first brown hill. Ascension is mostly klinka, and has been referred to as being the place on Earth most similar to the moon. The way it looks is strange, all red and white, sparse plants, then as the mountain rises...Green Mountain...it slowly becomes rain forest. From the water it almost always looks like a cloud engulfed mountain. Then we get to the pier head. Everyone gets off as the boat passes the concrete pier. It isn't much, just a small ledge with some old wet ropes dangling for you to get your balance. Up and over and toss my life jacket to the guy on the launch and tell him I'll be back for the next one, and sling my backpack over my shoulder. Most of the other guys don't hike. he he he I kind of laugh inside and I make the half mile up the hill from the pier to the pub in no time, and I am always the first to thumb a ride to the air force base.
Man, Ascension Island, I haven't thought about that place in a while. Warm, always warm...
They had a post office there, a U.S. post office, so you could send a letter for just a stamp. They also had a phone in the library that had a direct line to the U.S. so you cold use a regular calling card and call home. Otherwise, forget it.....sometimes Island politics would keep us from being able to use the phone, and it was our anniversary so I got paid good money to write that story while on watch and then take it all the way to the post office and then go back down to the pub afterward and drink beer for three hours and watch the world cup....Olsen's Lager from South Africa....man do I miss getting drunk at the Saint's Club....cool ocean breeze and the whole world all to yourself outside...what was I talking about?