Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Lao Long Tou

The Old Dragon's Head is the name of the place where the Great Wall actually meets the sea (the Bohai Sea, to be exact, although it wasn't until I asked a number of Chinese people we bumped into that I actually for sure figured out just what that big body of water out there was). Lao Long Tou, as you can imagine, is a really, really long way from the most western part out there somewhere in the Gansu province desert. (Hmm...That could be an interesting adventure...)

The short of it is that, once we finally checked into our hotel and got our Shanhaiguan legs under us, the rest of the show was quite a party. Just a great weekend seeing some incredibly unique sites and, of course, celebrating Z's birthday.

Apparently, Lao Long Tou itself used to be nothing more than a bunch of rocks jutting out into the water, the remnants of a wall that had long ago ceased to serve any human purpose. Until the early 1990s, that is, when someone in the know had the idea that the place ought to be rebuilt and turned into a tourist site.

I have to say that it certainly is a crazy visual, for someone who viscerally associates the wall with mountainous landscapes. Looking out and seeing ocean tankers and waves gently crashing on the beach in the same glance as the Great Wall was quite an experience. It made me so quickly forget all of the craziness of the day that had preceded our arrival at that spot. Time both seemed to accelerate away from those moments of just a few hours ago and, at the same time, stand still as we watched all of those timeless beach scenes...young people walking hand-in-hand, people bending over looking for little treasures...all under the watchful eye of the Old Dragon's Head...



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