I Walked at Badalung
The Great Wall at Badalung... I spent the day there exploring it... walking it up and down the hills. What was this thing? Why was it really built I wondered? What purpose did it really serve?
The question has never left me.
Over the years... in conversation and study... I had come to realize that in my opinion it was not a wall at all.
It was a highway... and the worlds first information superhighway at that.
Those gaurdhouses that you see... on the top of every hill... the gaurds in them had special lanterns... if a message was flashed from one... it would be transmitted to the next like that game you played in grade school...operator.
In this manner a message could be sent thousands of miles at the greatest speed the world knew at the time.
This in my opinion was the true purpose and significance of the Great Wall of China.
It was the beginning of the internet.
Much more than a grade school game... I have heard that the penalty for messing up the transmittance of the message was death.
As a highway, the 'wall' was in most places capable of carrying four horses abreast... surely the fastest way to deploy an army along this massive frontier.
An amazing thing the Great Wall of China.
It isn't so much a wall at all.
No one in the world knew that I was here. When last I spoke to my parents from a payphone in Japan I told them I was trying to hitchhike to Australia on frieght ships. Shanghai was as close as I was able to get. I figured I'd jump a ship there in the port that was headed to Oz.
The Chinese port authorities had a different plan. They found me wandering from ship to ship and threw me in the back of a jeep. They took me to a gaurd house where I spent many hours being questioned... searched... had two Japanese Playboy magazines and a Bible taken from me.
It was the Bible that offended the soldiers. When they found that... a phone call was made. A more well dressed soldier arrived to talk to me... obviously a man in charge... he made them bring me tea and the soldiers began to treat me well.
He was very curious about the Bible... he questioned me about it as he flipped through the Playboy. He layed it out to me in pretty good english... he said 'you are a missionary' in an accusatory tone.
I had to laugh as he unfolded the centerfold... I was no missionary... the Bible was a curiousity I was given in Japan... it was written in Japanese. The other contents of my backpack should have keyed him in rather quickly. Again and again he angled the accusation at me from different directions.
Finally... the Bible was thrown into the garbage can next to his desk... the two playboy magazines put into his desk drawer... my whiskey flask uncapped for him to sniff...
He called the soldiers... spoke to them in a manner that I knew only meant that they were being ordered to do something.
'Welcome to China' he said, clearly admititng defeat in his interrogation... 'you cannot walk around my port. The soldiers will take you to the gate.'
He shook my hand and removed himself as the soldiers... much more courteous now... led me to the jeep and drove me to the entrance to the port. They looked disappointed that they weren't gonna be allowed to smack me in the head a few times with their rifle butts.
Instead of journeying on to Australia... I would find my way around China. Life does have a funny way of throwing these detours at us.
Shanghai was mine.
It was the fork in the road that led me to the Great Wall at Badalung.