Laolongtou


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Asia » China » Hebei » Shanhaiguan
May 16th 2019
Published: December 15th 2019
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The train from Beijing Station took just over two and a half hours to reach Shanhaiguan. The train station is pretty small and I quickly worked out that I needed the south exit. No automated ticket checking here, just one bloke. I came out of the station and it felt like I was in the middle of nowhere, there were barely any people around. It was weird as train stations in China are usually bustling with people. There were a few taxi touts around but I ignored them and headed to the main road and headed right. It was about 4 or 5 kilometres to Laolongtou, I could have gotten the bus but decided to walk as it would give a better impression of the town. When I reached the end of the road I turned left and walked and walked. It was pretty much just generic small town China, nothing special. It took me about 40-50 minutes to reach Laolongtou. There was a beautiful building that was a royal palace. I didn't know if a ticket was needed to get in so didn't bother trying. I headed to the main ticket office and bought my entrance ticket to the main site. It was 50 RMB.

I made my way to the entrance and headed inside. The compex surrounding Laolongtou was quite big, so I studied the map on what there was to see. Laolongtou means Old Dragon's Head and was the starting point for Great Wall of the Ming Dynasty in the east. The original wall and castle were built by General Qi Jiguang and protruded into 23 metres into the sea. I headed through the gate into Ninghai Town. Ninghai Castle, which was initially built in the Ming Dynasty, was the only seaside castle with fully fledged functions along the Great Wall. The castle consisted of offices, a camp for the army and temples. This kind of internal city found in the castle was rare in China. I headed into the living area of Longwu Camp. This contained quite a few buildings that showed what life was like back then. I wandered through the kitchens and outside I came to a small stone structure, which was Guandi Emperor Temple. It was originally built during the Ming Dynasty to honour the “Martial Saint” of Guan Yu. Building this temple here showcased local traditions and customs and used Guan Yu as a role model for the soldiers. Guan Yu was a general who served under the warlord Liu Bei during the late Eastern Han dynasty of China. He played a significant role in the events leading up to the end of the Han dynasty and the establishment of Liu Bei's state of Shu Han during the Three Kingdoms period. My walk took me to the garrison's jail. This was used to house military personnel, who had violated the military laws and commited crimes at Longwu Camp. This whole area is a lot bigger than I imagined, I had only thought that there would be the Wall and the sea temple, not this whole military City. It was really quite a nice surprise as it gave me lots to walk around and I got to learn more about China. Next, I came to the Backyard Lodge also known as the “wife house” as this is where the families at the garrison lived. I thought that the bedrooms looked rather nice, I bet it would have been cold in winter though. The grounds were beautiful. I love How everything is well looked after and maintained in China. The little courtyard garden with a watwr featyre was really cute. I came across the Office Hall, which was where the garrison administrator designed military strategy, deployments, and maneuvers. I really liked these buildings, probably as they were quieter than the rest of the complex, Although the whole place was so quiet, it was almost like I wasn't in China anymore, where was everyone? I also really liked the red and black colour of the buildings.

I headed around the grounds and came to some interesting looking gold statues. I could see a temple at the back of the grounds so headed over there. However, when I got to the entrance I found it locked as it was undergoing some construction work. I headed back towards the wall and Weng Tower. This reminded me of the old city walls and gates in Seoul and Suwon in Korea. I've probably just offended both Chinese and Koreans by saying that as they are both fairly nationalistic and patriotic nations. Weng Tower is unusual as these barbicans are normally found outside a city's entrance, but this one was built inside. Unfortunately, this isn't the original, but rather a reproduction from 1988. I wander through the gate in the tower and followed the path down to the beach. The beach reminded me of one I had went to years ago on the south west coast of Korea. I think it was the thathed parasols set up on the sand that did it. The sky was pretty murky, thanks pollution, so there wasn't much of a view. I headed up to the command platform of Xu Da. He had been instrumental in setting up the barriers and fortifications at Qianming Town, which is now Shanhaiguan. The statues on the top of the viewing platform were cool and although the views of the coast weren't great, I did like the view of the Temple of the Goddess of the Sea.

I took a walk across the beach to the temple. I saw that the beach stretched along the coast in the other direction, too. If I'd had more time, I would have liked to have taken a walk down that way. I did like the view in the direction that I would be heading. I could see the Great Wall jutting out into the sea. I headed through a couple of gates and into the temple. The Temple of the Goddess of the Sea was built by coastal Residents during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. They also built the Hall of the Goddess of Heaven, the Temple of the Dragon King and the Temple of the Goddess of the North Sea. They were built in the hope of having a safe life. However, they were all destroyed by the Eight Power Allied Force in 1900. The Temple of the Sea Goddess that stands there now was constructed in 1989. The project was led by Sun Dazhang, an architect specialising in acient designs. He integtrated into the new temple the characteristics of the previous four temples. I walked around the outer courtyard of the temple looking at the bell and drum on display in their respective towers. I looked around the different halls that make up the temple. It was a pretty temple made special by its unique location. At the back of the temple, there was a walkway leading further out to sea and a pagoda at the end of it. It was a shame that the view wasn't clear. It was really windy here too, which I enjoyed as it kept me cool.

I headed along the beach in the direction of the wall. I was cursing myself for wearing trainers as the sand was getting in them. The beach was actually quite busy. I came across a large group of people next to a platform that went out into the sea.The funny thing was that the platform was roped off to stop people accessing it. No one was paying a blind bit of notice to it and most were hopping the barrier to walk along the platform to get better selfies in front of the Great Wall. The sea looked a little too rough for my liking so there was no way I would be jumping the barrier. I continued along the beach until I reached the end of the Great Wall. It was awesome to see it up close, but it just loked too modern. I wish it had more crumbling faded granduer, but like the temple, the Wall had been destroyed by the Eight Power Allied Force in 1900. This reproduction was alos built in 1989. Still I was glad to see it and mentally compare it to the part of the Great Wall that I had seen near Beijing. I headed up the steps next to the Great Wall and came to the Nanhaikou Pass, which had first been built during the reign of Emperor Hongwu of the Ming Dynasty. It had been an important land and military defense, but had been destroyed during the Ming Dynasty and buried in sand. I headed up the steps and made it on to Laolongtou. As I was walking along the wall, I kept stopping to take pictures along the way. At one point, I felt a tap on my shoulder and as I turned around, the man Who had tapped me put his arm around me so that he could take a picture of us together. Great move on his part as I normally avoid trying to have my picture taken, but he got me. I really enjoyed my little walk along the end section of the Great Wall. I really liked the flags fluttering in the breeze and the views of the coastline. This area has some beaches that are really popular with people from Beijing wanting to escape the city heat. I hope that I can return one day to check out some of the beaches in the area. It was also interesting to read about the building process of the “Stone Castle Protruding into the Sea”. The wall is just over nine metres high, eight metres wide and protrudes almost 23 metres into the sea. It was made up of nine layers of stone. The fourth, fifth and sixth layers are the originals. Each Stone had a chiseled trapezoid groove and two stones would be interconnected to form a dovetail groove. The groove was then injected with a mixture of iron powder, rosin and alum to act as a kind of cement.

I walked back along the wall to explore the last part of the old settlement. I came to a pagoda and some stone steles. I also got some great views of the coastline. There was a French made canon on display that I took a quick look at. I decided to walk along the wall inland, but I didn't get too far. There was a big iron fence blocking the way. It would be really cool to walk along the wall into town, but it isn't possible. I don't know the reason why, maybe it isn't fully restored and therefore not too safe. Instead, I decided to walk around
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Laolongtou
the parts of the wall that were open and available to me. I enjoyed my walk along the wall. I liked looking down on the maze. I had no desire to do it as I feared that I would get lost and never find my way out. One of the last places I visited was ths Bazong Department. It was some kind of military department, but the intricacies were lost on me as I don't understand the different roles, positions, and ranks in the military. I had a quick look in Xiangong Temple before leaving. The name means Temple of Honors and it was built in order to recognise the feats of the important ministers and generals in defense of the pass. I was feeling a bit hungry when I came out so I headed to one of the shops near the ticket office and bought an ice cream, which I ate as I walked to the palaces that were just around the corner. I walked in the gate, didn't get much further. The facades of the buildings were beautiful, but behind them there were just normal buildings, which totally ruined the illusion for me. I wasn't feeling it, so just decided to skip it.

I was too tired to try and attempt the 6+ kilometre walk to my hotel, so headed to the nearest bus stop, which I had passed earlier. I had only been there about a minute or so when the bus pulled up. Perfect timing. It was only about a 20 minute ride and it dropped me off at the south gate of the old city walls. I walked through the gate and was quite surprised at how quiet it was, quite a few of ths shops were shut and others were shutting up for the evening. I took a couple of wrong turns, but made it to my hotel eventually. I was staying at the Xitang Calligraphy Hotel and it was really nice. It was very clean and quiet. The attention to detail was excellent. I chilled in my room for a while, the staff bring fruit round to each room in the evening, which is a nice touch. As it started to get dark, I went for a short walk around the town, the towers and arches were lit up and they looked really pretty. I stopped at a convenience store to pick up something for my dinner and headed back to the comfort of my hotel room for the rest of the evening.


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