China

Steep steps and slippery stones to climb the Great Wall of China.

We caught one of the last trains for the notoriously-touristed-section of the Great Wall at Badaling. And yet, upon our arrival, there was nobody there. We were two of three people walking on the wall at sundown. Wishing we had brought our sleeping bags and food, as we could have easily camped-out right there on the wall. 

When we reached the highest point of our walk, before the sunlight had completely departed the hazy skies of Beijing, we each took turns pulling air from our lungs - to let out the loudest yells we could muster. Watching the last light of day slither and guide our eyes up over the rolling mountains, as it reflected off the grey stones, I was caught by the experience, and removed from any reminders of modern times, and placed in a space of personal and historical contemplation. 

David on The Great Wall at Badaling. 

 

We left Beijing for the southern Province of Guangxi, where we spent two weeks in Yangshuo. In Yangshuo, we volunteered at  Zhuoyue English College, helping students practice conversational English - four nights a week, two hours each night. With such an open schedule we spent a lot of the time getting lost, cycling through the winding roads of Lijang River Valley, and climbing the beautiful karst cliffs.

 

Stefan Lendl, a 25 year-old Austrian computer programmer.

Prior to volunteering for Zhuoyue English College, Lendl spent three months fulfilling an internship in Mongolia. He had planned to extend his stay, and spend the week climbing with us. But shortly after this photo, he suffered an accident while belaying, which left his hands badly burnt and kept him from climbing for several weeks.

Zhuoyue English College students: David (left) and Andy look over Yangshuo, from the T.V tower west of town.

The College requires the students to take English names and to speak only English while attending school. Andy was sent to the college by his employer, a French international company that specializes in manufacturing wall outlet covers. David is studying  English with the hope of opening his own business. 

 Raul, from Spain , left home to travel the world and found himself studying English in China. He spent 6 months in Guilin, a large city to the north of  Yangshuo, studying at a college where he was required to simultaneously learn Chinese in order to follow the English curriculum. He moved his studies to Zhuoyue  College, where all  the teachers are foreigners and the only language spoken is English. 

Raul, from Spain , left home to travel the world and found himself studying English in China. He spent 6 months in Guilin, a large city to the north of  Yangshuo, studying at a college where he was required to simultaneously learn Chinese in order to follow the English curriculum. He moved his studies to Zhuoyue  College, where all  the teachers are foreigners and the only language spoken is English.