William Lindesay’s celebrated 2,500 km solo first-ever traverse of the Great Wall of China on foot in 1987 anchored his future in China - and at the Wall.
In this Gala Evening, he talks about Jiankou, his favourite stretch of the Great Wall. In this “enclave of antiquity” and “my piece of heaven and history”, there is an extraordinary valley deep in the mountains north of Beijing, where Great Wall-tipped ridgelines and watchtowers dominate the views.
In this fascinating ‘Great Wall reality’ presentation, William leads a guided ‘walk’ to the principal Wall panorama points of Jiankou, telling not only of seasonal changes but evidencing those induced by time and age. He relates incidents and ideas that occurred, by recounting conservations and encounters, and introduces some of Jiankou’s characters. These range from elderly local famers who’ve spent their lives at Jiankou, to one-off visitors from afar. They, despite only being at Jiankou for a day to two, sometimes made history by describing and photographing its majesty, an unspoiled combination of the ancient building set against a stunning backdrop.
William also looks back on a quarter century’s personal experiences at Jiankou, for which he was one of the principal movers to save. It began in 1998 with an escapist’s dream, to have the Great Wall in his own backyard, but it soon became the harsh reality of what seemed like the inevitable rebuilding of the Wall and mass tourism development. His responses, which ranged from headline-making litter pickups, to the placement of green-message signage, to employing farmers as rangers, to successfully listing Beijing’s Great Wall landscape as an endangered site by the World Monuments Fund, took almost two decades, and saved the Wall.
Jiankou is now being promoted as a model of 21st century Great Wall protection within the current work of establishing a Great Wall National Park chain of sites across China and a parallel Great Wall Cultural Belt.
William Lindesay OBE is originally from the United Kingdom, and he has lived in China permanently since 1990, spending much of his time in a hamlet beside his favourite part of the Wall, Jiankou.
William is the author of 11 books on the subject of the Great Wall, and is a recent recipient of the Royal Society for Asian Affairs ‘Special Award’ and is a luminary of The Explorers Club 50 Class. His most recent work is a two-part Great Wall life memoir titled ‘Wild Wall: The Foundation Years & The Jiankou Years”. He has also fronted documentaries that have been screened on National Geographic Channel, Channel 4, Discovery Channel and the Smithsonian Channel.
William is credited with arousing China’s national consciousness to protect the Great Wall and its environment, and he has curated two national exhibitions in Beijing, at the Capital Museum and the Imperial Academy and seven provincial exhibitions. For his work presenting and preserving the Great Wall and assuming the role of its international ambassador, he was granted permanent residency of China and the Friendship Award, China’s highest award bestowed on foreigners.
Members, guests and others are most welcome to attend this event, which is HK$200 for Members and HK$250 for guests and others, including free-flow fine wines and drinks in the elegant environment of the Jardine Penthouse.