If these walls could talk

The Great Wall of China stretches across the country. One of the easiest places to visit it from is Beijing. But what does the wall think of that? 🙂

Written by Michael Turtle

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle. A journalist for more than 20 years, he's been travelling the world since 2011.

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle and has been travelling full time for a decade.


The Great Wall of China

For centuries The Great Wall of China has remained silent and never done interviews. It has stonewalled all previous attempts by journalists, so to speak, but has now finally decided to talk. In a world exclusive, The Great Wall of China has told its story to Michael Turtle.

I remember my childhood being really tough. When I was a young wall my parents told me that one day I would be great. I found it hard to believe, though.

Like any teenager, things seemed like they would never get any better. I hardly had any friends and I was really lonely out there on the plains of Northern China. The only people who would occasionally come and visit were nomadic tribes but they were just trying to use me – they climbed all over me just so they could go and invade the Chinese.

Yeah, the Qin Dynasty days were pretty hard. You know that song ‘Brick’ by Ben Folds Five? That’s how I felt. Not because I had a pregnant girlfriend who needed an abortion. But because I was made of bricks.

Great Wall of China near Beijing

My parents were right, though. Things did start to get better.

In the Ming Dynasty in the 14th century I decided I needed to get in shape so I started bulking up and got myself to a really impressive 9,000 kilometres long.

Well, to confess, I was using a lot of labourers to help me get bigger but, hey, everyone was doing it back then – just ask the pyramids, they were using labourers way before I was! And it didn’t even shrink my testicles.

Great Wall of China near Beijing

Anyway, regardless, I definitely felt at the top of my Great Wall game – stretching from Shanhaiguan in the east to Lop Lake in the west, I felt like I could conquer the world, or more appropriately, stop anyone else from conquering the world!

Great Wall of China near Beijing

Then, once again, I fell into a period of despair. It was probably some kind of mid-life crisis, the doctors said. Although I don’t know how they diagnosed that, seeing as no one knows how long I’ll be around for.

I showed those stupid doctors. What are they now? Dead. What am I now? Great. But I’m getting sidetracked again.

Anyway, my downfall all happened after a big night on the tiles… ‘the tiles’ being not a bar, but what the stretch of me near Liaodong was made of.

You see, it was here that those bloody Manchu invasions happened around 1600. Oh well, not my problem – I did my bit and was all Great Wall of China-like. Not my fault if they went on to take over China and rule it for the next 300 years. I suppose… Ok, I feel a little bit bad about that one. Oops, sorry guys.

Great Wall of China near Beijing

I’ve met some interesting people along the way. That Genghis guy wasn’t really too bad actually.

You know that expression “one man’s invader is another man’s crusader”? Yeah, well we used to laugh about that because Genghis knew he was just a ruthless invader. It was great having a chuckle over the fact some people could even think he was a liberator.

Great Wall of China near Beijing

It was also really cool when they did a big concert on me in 2004, although normally I prefer stone-cold silence.

Boyz II Men was there (gosh they’re looking old, aren’t they!) and Alicia Keys performed too, although she had really spiky high heel shoes that kind of hurt a bit.

Cyndi Lauper seemed nice too although when I tried to add her as a Facebook friend years later she ignored me. She wouldn’t even write on my wall, which is kind of ironic… seeing as I am… a wall. He he… get it? Sigh… that joke’s getting older than me, it seems.

Great Wall of China near Beijing

Overall, it’s been a good life and I’ve been proud to be a Great Wall. There was a rough period when the Berlin Wall gave all of us walls a bad name, but we sorted him out eventually (and he was from my mother’s side of the family anyway, and they’re all a bit dodgy).

It was also pretty sad when we got some bad publicity when Humpty Dumpty fell off my cousin but I still maintain all the king’s horses and all the king’s men could have put him back together again – they just needed something to go with their bacon.

Great Wall of China near Beijing

There are almost one and a half billion people in China these days and I feel like I’ve helped get the country to where it is now. There’s an expression here that once you’ve walked The Great Wall, then you’re a true hero. I kind of like to think that I’m the real hero, though… you know what I mean?


Although it’s an enormous city, you’ll find most of the best places to stay in Beijing in the neighbourhoods to the east and northeast of the Forbidden City.


Although it’s more expensive than your average hostel, Peking Youth Hostel is definitely the best in the city, with a good location and helpful staff.


Although it’s great value, Sunworld Hotel Wangfujing feels quite upmarket, with lots of facilities and a good location.


Enjoy the stunning views from the spacious rooms at the Mandarin Oriental Wangfujing, where there’s also a gorgeous indoor pool.


An absolutely gorgeous hotel, the Rosewood Beijing has impeccable service, an indoor pool, and excellent dining.


This site is on the UNESCO World Heritage List!
I'm on a mission to visit as many World Heritage Sites as I can. Only about 800 more to go... eek!

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