The ‘World Map’ in a rural courtyard at the foot of the ancient Great Wall in Hebei
China News Service, Tangshan, October 15th: The ‘World Map’ in a rural courtyard at the foot of the ancient Great Wall in Hebei.
Authors: Bai Yunshui and Meng Chao
On a golden autumn morning, the Yanshan Mountains in the northern region were cloaked in layers of green, and the meandering ancient Great Wall on the ridge was embraced by the autumn hues, resembling a tranquil resting dragon. On the 15th, at the foot of the Great Wall, within a rustic farmhouse courtyard, the homeowner, Yu Haiwen, was preparing to welcome South Korean tourists. Inside his house, he marked another circle on the world map.
Yu Haiwen is a villager from Baiyangyu Village in Dacuizhuang Town, Qian’an City, Hebei Province. He is 51 years old this year and serves as a guardian of the Great Wall. Growing up at the foot of the Great Wall, he has a deep emotional attachment to this historical monument.
On October 11th, Yu Haiwen (front) introduced the ancient Great Wall on the world map to tourists. (Photo by Liang Yushui)
“During the Ming Dynasty, my ancestors came here to build and defend the Great Wall. They have lived here for generations, for hundreds of years,” Yu Haiwen said. “Guarding the Great Wall is the mission of the local people, passed down from generation to generation.
As the largest and most widely distributed world cultural heritage site in China, the Great Wall stretches for 220 kilometers within the territory of Tangshan and includes 29 famous and treacherous passes. The Baiyangyu section of the Great Wall, guarded by Yu Haiwen, was built during the Ming Dynasty. It is 4.5 kilometers long, with 21 watchtowers. Among them, the 1.5-kilometer-long marble Great Wall is considered the essence of the entire Great Wall.
“Every two to three days, I patrol and inspect the bricks and stones, clearing away any weeds,” on this rugged stretch of the Great Wall, every inch bears the footprints of Yu Haiwen.
Looking up from Yu Haiwen’s home, the Great Wall stretches and undulates along the natural contours of the nearby mountains. The hills are covered with shrubs and fruit trees, and it happens to be the ripe season for Beijing pears. Yu Haiwen picked some for the tourists to taste.
“The Great Wall, known worldwide, attracts tourists from all over the globe,” Yu Haiwen said. In 2005, he and several villagers from his village established a farmhouse inn. This not only helps support their livelihoods but also allows them to educate domestic and international tourists about Great Wall conservation and promote Great Wall culture.
On October 11th, Great Wall guardian Yu Haiwen conducted an inspection on the Great Wall. (Photo by Liang Yushui)
Inside the farmhouse inn run by Yu Haiwen, there is a large world map that stands out. “Whenever I encounter foreign tourists, I make a mark on this world map,” Yu Haiwen said, pointing to the marks on the map. He mentioned that they have hosted visitors from 18 different countries, including the United States, the Netherlands, and Hungary, who have come to explore the marble Great Wall. “We’ve had quite a number of foreign tourists visit our home.”
In the morning, smoke gently rose from the farmhouse inn at the foot of the ancient Great Wall, and 63-year-old South Korean tourist Park Seung-hwan arrived in this small village near the Great Wall. Since the 1990s, Park Seung-hwan has frequently visited China for business, traveling to many cities such as Xiamen and Shenyang and exploring numerous tourist attractions. “The Great Wall is very magnificent and enormous. To construct such a building in such rugged and mountainous terrain is truly remarkable,” he said.
Looking at the chestnut trees at the foot of the Great Wall, Yu Haiwen explained to Park Seung-hwan, “The chestnuts you love to eat come from the fruits on these trees.” Park Seung-hwan smiled and nodded in agreement.
Yu Haiwen mentioned that among the many local farmhouse delicacies, the most popular among foreign tourists are “spicy peppered meat” and “chestnut-stewed chicken.” He said, “Whether it’s the Great Wall or the farmhouse meals along the way, the praise from tourists makes us very proud.”
It is understood that leveraging the Baiyangyu Great Wall, the local area has developed various tourism formats, including specialty farming and animal husbandry, fruit marketing, and rural tourism. Currently, Baiyangyu Village has over 60 households primarily engaged in farmhouse dining and homestay accommodations, with an average annual income exceeding 120,000 Chinese yuan per household.
As more and more visitors are drawn to the world map in his courtyard, Yu Haiwen envisions, “I look forward to the day when I can fill this world map with marks.” (The End)