Last July I travelled to Beijing with the great Chris McLennan Photography. Chris has been an idol of mine since I studied photography years ago, so to be able to work along side him was such an amazing opportunity. To say I picked up tips and tricks from one of the best photographers in the world is such a buzz! So a huge thank you to Chris and his beautiful wife Cat for being a couple of cool kids and making this happen!
This collection of images is all I managed to bring home from 2 weeks in Beijing shooting some very fancy hotels. In between working, trying to function in the heat, and just overall being in absolute awe of my surroundings, this is all I managed to rustle up to show you fellas!
The highlight of the trip of course being our trip to The Great Wall of China. We didn't want to go to the real touristy spots of the wall - not only are these hugely crowded in summer with souvenir stalls everywhere, they are also mostly restored. Although it would have still been incredibly cool, it's not the best for photo photo. So Chris being the magical worker he is managed to wrangle us a private guide to reach a completely unrestored and rugged part of the wall. I knew it was going to be a decent hike - a couple of hours I was told. Hah, poor naive past Lola. I wish I could tell her she is about to be broken.
After about an hour in the car, we pulled into a tiny little village at the base of the mountain. I kept trying to spot out the window how we could possibly be getting to the wall - I could see the teeny tiny towers sitting ontop of the spine of the mountain, but could never trace out a path to get to it. I remember telling myself "Chill mate, it will all make sense when we start walking."
So we met our guide - a photographer himself. He spoke no english, but we had two Chinese locals with us from the hotel that could translate for us. We were invited into his house where he then showed us his own photographs. Pretty impressive stuff. A couple of them were shot in winter, covered in snow (see shot he is standing next to, photo 21 in post) - how he climbs that mountain in the snow I'll never know. Mind you, he did the pending hike like it was a casual walk to the dairy for him.
Once everyone was introduced and after we shared some pointing, smiling and thumbs-upping we set out. The start of the hike began through some of his apricot orchids. He just plucked fruit off the trees and threw them at us to eat - ah.ma.zing. After about an hour of walking/stumbling on loose rock, getting tiny cuts from SHITTY grass, saying wassup to some wild goats, getting bitten by a bug of some description, bleeding from said bite and worrying I'll die from said bite, we reached the "half way point" (psshht. Not even.)
So remember the part of my story when I said the path of how we were getting to the top of the mountain would become obvious? Yeah, nah, still not obvious. So this is when I lose faith in the universe showing me the way and get all like "uumm how are we getting up there?" (Heli plz.) Nina our translator is also curious about this, so asks our guide. He just kind of looks at me and points to the mountain, points to me and makes climbing guestures while saying something in mandarin. I look at him and then at Nina and then at the mountain and awkwardly laugh. Nina says "We climb." Um... ok... wow. I'd also like to mention it's 36 DEGREES CELCIUS. And I'm slowly dieing from a bug bite. And dehydration. Chris is just like, 'lol I do this kind of shit every week.'
At this point I would like to refer you to the 23rd photo of this post (*conundrum) - see the squarer looking tower in the middle, and then the dip to the right of it. Mmmhmm, we climbed up there. And yes I wore my Nikes. I'm an athlete ok.
Long story short, after a lot of stopping, slipping, almost falling to death-ing, we made it. And holy.moly it was worth it. I have no words to describe to you the extensive views and rediculous layers of mountain ranges which just continued to get better and better as the sun went down. It blew my mind. I got to learn some great stuff from Chris, lunge ontop of tower #15, eat a danish and fall down The Great Wall of China (there was loose rubble ok, I'm claiming it as an achievement. None of you have fallen down The Great Wall of China. Maybe, quite possibly, most likely something to do with my Nikes.)
After watching the sunset and the moon rise, we ate snacks under the stars and made our descent at about 11pm. I thought the hike up was hard. Climbing down a mountain with messed up legs in the dark was a whole different story. One which I will tell you if I ever meet you and you ask. It will go something like "it was reeaaal hard." I then had room service hot chips at like 2 in the morning. Best chips I've ever had.
Thanks for reading my blabble. Surprised to see how many of you got through all that. Like, chill Lola, only your mum cares.
*Pic of me lunging on tower by Chris McLennan. Check out his Facebook page for more amazing work!