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E-bike expedition part 3 China - Online diary 2015-2016

Fortress at the Wildganstor Pass

N 39°31'48.9'' E 112°48'06.4''
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    Day: 123




    Latitude N:

    Longitude E:

    Daily kilometers:
    100 km

    Total kilometers:
    10,228 km

    Maximum height:
    1.500 m

    Total altitude meters:
    6.011 m

    06:51 am

    5:34 pm

    Temperature day max:
    6 to 9 °C

    Night temperature:
    minus 5°C

    Total plate tires:

    Plate front tire:

    Flat rear tire:

    Plate trailer tire:

(Photos of the diary entry can be found at the end of the text).


Around midday, we reach the fortress complex at Yanmenguan, which is located around 50 kilometers from Shanyin. We are the only guests at the ticket counter and buy our tickets for 85 yuan (€12.49) per person. Then we leave the modern visitor center where the buses are waiting. With the words: “Dogs are not allowed”, the driver forbids us to board. “Look, he’s really nice,” Tanja tries to convince him, unabashedly takes the uniformed man’s hand and lets him stroke Ajaci. “No problem,” I confirm, and we get on the bus without asking too many questions. The driver looks at his colleagues, somewhat confused, laughs sheepishly, gets behind the wheel, starts the engine and drives his three guests up the hill to the fortress. When we have obviously reached the end of the line, we say goodbye. “See you later,” we say, hoping that the man won’t change his mind and drive us back to the information center with our dog.

Although Yanmenguan is one of the most important fortifications on the Great Wall, is one of China’s monuments, was a strategically important passageway from Shanxi Province to the north of China and has attracted numerous visitors since its reconstruction in 2010, we are once again the only visitors to the entire complex. “There’s something about visiting the sights of China so late in the year,” I realize. An icy wind blows against us at around minus 5 °C. “Do we want to go up there?” I ask Tanja, pointing to one of the watchtowers that seems to be watching over us at the end of a long wall above the fortress. “Of course, since we’re in China, I want to climb the last tower too.” Since no care was taken during the reconstruction to work with original materials, but with concrete, the favorite material of the Chinese, the flair is missing a little. I miss the aura that our old knight’s castles in Europe have. And yet the former bulwark, which was built during the Tang Dynasty from 618 to 907 against the invading nomadic tribes, looks extremely impressive.

As we climb the steep steps to the last and highest watchtower, we realize the extent of the legendary fortress on the Wildganstor Pass. Rough mountains, some of whose peaks are covered in snow, dominate the landscape. I can well imagine how hard it was to do one’s military service up here in the solitude. It is said that many a warrior earned honorable merits in this fortress. General Li Mu, who was buried here, defeated an attacking cavalry army of the Xiongnu, a tribal confederation living between the 3rd century BC and the 4th century AD, which controlled large parts of Central Asia, was lured into an ambush and thus repelled the attack. The fortress has been fiercely fought over, conquered and recaptured over the centuries. Army commanders of the Han dynasty marched from here against the then dangerous and warlike Xiongnu, because of whom Emperor Shihuangdi had the first parts of the Great Wall of China built. “What a view,” Tanja interrupts my thoughts. “Stunning.” “You’re so taciturn. What’s going through your head?” she wants to know. “I was just thinking about my military service and tried to put myself in the shoes of the soldiers serving here at the time. According to records, Emperor Sui Yangdi only survived his inspection visit over 1,400 years ago because his general, Li Shimin, used a ruse to put the attacking Tulue to flight. I can hear the battle cries, the screams of the wounded and dying, the snapping of sinews as the arrows leave the bows, the neighing of horses and the roar of orders as if the attack were taking place right now.” “You have too much imagination.” “I don’t know. Why don’t you listen? Listen to the sound of the icy wind,” I reply. “I don’t want to concentrate on any war. Let’s go back down into the valley. The wind is getting more and more unpleasant,” Tanja replies, whereupon we head down the steps of the watchtower.

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