A young man sleeps at Jiankou section of the Great Wall in Huairou, Beijing.
When nightfall comes, the Great Wall of China should be empty and silent. But some tourists, upon realizing no one is guarding one of the world's greatest treasures, decide to make a night of it on the wall. And do so without fear of arrest.
The question is being raised over the legality of sleeping on the ancient stones of China's sacred monument after photos surfaced online last month showing around 100 foreigners slipping out of sleeping bags, wearing boxer shorts and sweatpants, surrounded by garbage, to a misty morning sunrise from atop Hotel Great Wall.
The images have unleashed a wave of outrage from Chinese and foreign wall-lovers alike who argue tourism exploits of the ancient relic are relinquishing it to a wasteland of crumbling rocks and trash.
"Just their tents and sleeping bags alone required a truck to transport up the mountain," said a posting translated into English on the website chinaSMACK in reaction to the camping, which took place on Aug 3 at the Jinshanling section of the wall in Hebei province, according to online reports. "Looks like 'protecting the Great Wall' is not worth mentioning next to colorful cash."
The Great Wall is a series of stone and earthen walls built and rebuilt from the 5th century BC to the 16th century. They roughly run along the southern border of Inner Mongolia autonomous region. Several parts of the wall that are open to the public draw millions of tourists each year.