Beijing, China, Day Two
Day 2 started with stale buns from the Maxims bakery attached to our hotel. In ten months of travel staying almost exclusively in hotels that cost less than £20 a night we’ve rarely stayed anywhere breakfast was not included so it was a surprise to find we had to fend for ourselves here and that when we did we’d get stale buns. The least they could have done was reduce them but selling them stale with no warning is a shame indeed, thank goodness we had lovely British tea to dip them in ☺️
Bun fiasco behind us we met in the lobby at 8.30am with the rest of our group and our new tour guide Joanna. Everyone arrived more or less on time, Dane appeared, cooler bag of beer in tow ahahahaha he’s awesome and we headed to the Great Wall. The two hour journey following a very thorough intro from Joanna was notable for the complete lack of silence. It seems the ladies who refused to join us for dinner last night are talkers, and loud ones at that, oh the joy! It’s clear in any group there will be people you gravitate towards and some away from, sadly on a bus there’s only so far away you can gravitate. It will be interesting to see how long I can go before standing and screaming ‘PLEASE PLEASE SHUSH YOUR PRETTY PIE HOLES! I can’t take any more!’ because all the others managed to talk without everyone else hearing them, *sigh*. I am sure they are lovely women and I am also sure two hours is the very limit of my patience with people who talk so loudly we can all hear every word and they’re not even American so really have no excuse.
With great pleasure we arrived at the base of the mountain the Great Wall of China is perched atop. No access to google means I cannot dazzle you with information about it so you’ll have to google for yourselves, it’s long and old, Ha! I do know it was started in the Ching Dynasty to keep out the Mongal hordes and the part we visited was built during the Ming Dynasty about 800 years ago and this 3km section has 20 something watchtowers from which guards would light fires to warn the troops of incoming marauders.
You can walk, take a chair lift or cable car up to the Wall as it’s a good half a mile from the base and we took the cable car up to watchtower 14 and its spectacular views. Having a complicated relationship with heights I sat between Anne and Ma and looked mostly up and arrived without incident. What a feat of engineering it is, stretching in either direction as far as you can see, wiggly lines of wall balanced along the crest of the mountain punctuated by watchtowers every few hundred metres. It’s really beautiful and not so crowded nor hot as to be unbearable, we were blessed with a beautiful clear sunny day with a cooling breeze, perfect wall walking weather.
Those more adventurous than us headed up to the highest towers while we headed down a few thousand steps some narrow and steep, some wide and flat, making our way slowly through the intervening towers to number 6 where you can walk, get a chair lift or a metal toboggan (yes really) down. We stopped midway along the wall and sat in the sun soaking up the splendour of it all. I think it’s my first of the original 7 wonders of the world and what a one to start with! Again due to the lack of google I don’t actually know if I’ve seen any others as none of us can remember what the original 7 are.
After an equally chat filled journey back to Beijing (honestly it’s a skill that they can talk non stop for that long) most of us headed out for a Peking duck dinner which was pretty darn tasty before picking up some freshly baked chocolate bread and an intriguing looking cream cheese and cranberry loaf for breakfast which we will devour before heading to Tianamen Square and the Forbidden city. Joanna our tour guide is great, very friendly and informative and I’m looking forward to the days ahead even more Xx