Dear Diary… Memoirs of Sandy’s China adventures

By: Sandy Stephenson, CFO / COO of the Bend Chamber &  China Adventurer

Our first destination today took us to the Ming Tombs, the thirteen tombs of the Ming Dynasty. As we walked up to the site, we were greeted by two towering guardians: lion statues that are believed to have mystical protective powers.

The male lion leaned his massive paw on a ball, representing protection for the structure as well as supremacy over the world, while the female lion restrained her playful cub, symbolizing nurture and protection for those in the dwelling.

The tour guide explained the location of the tombs was chosen to deflect bad spirits and evil winds, according to Feng Shui principles.  Supernatural beliefs are a large part of Chinese culture. For example, the Chinese believe ghosts’ knees are connected making it impossible for them to take a step over a raised threshold; Therefore, the entrances into most historical sites have raised doorways you have to step over so the ghosts can’t get in. How cool is that?

After exploring each of the tombs, we boarded the bus and headed to our next adventure …THE GREAT WALL!

The Great Wall is the only man-made structure visible from space.  I could not wait to walk on this massive historic structure built to protect the Qin Dynasty against nomads from inner Asia.

Can you imagine the history that exists on each and every step?  During the Ming Dynasty, it measured 5,500 miles long and had 7,062 lookout towers.  It has since experienced major erosion, but the section we visited was intact.

As I ascended the wall, I was determined to climb as far as I could. Every step height was different and I’m pretty sure as I scaled the steps, they were getting taller and taller…  Later I learned the steps were built uneven to slow the enemy down. I did not dare the “hard” side of the wall where Tim Casey ventured off to. Those steps were higher than my legs are long!

Success! Atop the first tower, I soaked in the beautiful countryside. While staring at the miles of endless lush peaks and valleys I could sense how it might have felt to be up there watching for the “enemy.” A feeling of honor washed over me, as I realized many a great leader stood where I was standing.

During my descent of the wall, I was approached multiple times by groups of older Chinese ladies…Now I know what it feels like to be famous! They would run up to me, loop their arms through mine and smile for cameras snapping photos.  I quickly realized that while I’m touring this amazing attraction in their country, I myself, am an attraction!


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