Last week, Brendan and I were invited to dinner with a group of Chinese people belonging to “A small site on the Great Wall,” a society (named for its website) of a few hundred members who seek to protect the wall. We’d been looking at their site, www.thegreatwall.com.cn, for a while, but never actually made contact. When we finally did, only last week, they invited us to one of their regular dinner get-togethers at a restaurant 45 minutes by taxi from our hostel in Beijing. (Nothing unusual about this, most Beijing taxi rides take 45 minutes. At least they’re cheap.)
Founder and webmaster Zhang Jun with Brendan
We’ve written before of the efforts and importance of nonprofit and community groups in protecting the Great Wall (see “A Great Celebration”). These groups, and The Great Wall group is no exception, are made up of enthusiastic, intelligent and passionate people. The Great Wall might be under World Heritage protection, but grandiose labels don’t necessarily mean much without the people of these member-based groups who are out there measuring and scrutinizing every brick and every tower and pushing for effective on-ground protection.
Try scoring some of these stylin’ T-shirts at Badaling
After eating more Chinese food than we probably should have, we were presented with one of the society’s T-shirts each. Then the lights were dimmed and we were treated to a viewing of some footage of a recent four-day trip the group took to some portions of the wall east of Beijing (which I have to say was rather daunting … that wall can be pretty steep in places.)
Emma watching trip footage with Great Wall members
Most of the material on www.thegreatwall.com.cn is in Chinese, but there are several informative pages in English with some great photos. Please drop by for a look, and if you can send an email wishing “The Great Wall” members well.