Great Wall’s repairs are an uphill task
AS the first ray of sunshine reaches Donggou Village in Beijing’s Miyun District, Yang Chenghai and his fellow villagers walk behind 14 mules, each laden with bricks, and make their way up a hillside section of the Great Wall.
Since the start of this year, the renovation of a 1,000-meter section of the Great Wall in the north of Yang’s village has started. Because of steep mountain paths, animals are the only way to carry bricks to the top. A mule can only carry 12 bricks at a time, each weighing 10 kilograms.
Zheng Baoyong, head of the heritage management office of Miyun District, said that Miyun is home to one-third of Beijing’s Great Wall sections. Due to human destruction and natural weathering, some parts of the Great Wall are damaged or have collapsed, and they are in urgent need of renovation.
Repairs are difficult to complete, taking large amounts of manual labor and funding. Workers have to carry the bricks by hand when a mule fails to climb some of the steepest mountainsides.
“It is a very difficult and dangerous project. We have around 50 workers now. Every day, they start their work at 5:30am and do not stop until dark. It is hard to hire workers,” said Zhang Baoru, who is in charge of the renovation project.
Yang and his mules transport bricks more than 10 times each day.
“It is very hard, but I know it is a good thing to do,” he said, letting the mules graze for a while before they go downhill to pick up more bricks.