18 April 15
Up at 0530 today to get to the Great Wall before the crowds, sorry about that, when we got there at around 8:15 there were already crowds there. We were allocated 2.5 hrs to satisfy our GW needs, Carol and I got half way and called it quits simply because the steps are so uneven; one is 380 tall, the next 100mm then back to 300 ad infinitum…. The Great wall is simply magic though, photos don’t do it justice and superlatives fail to describe the experience especially as an 80 year old races past you…. By the time I had done around 450 steps I was sounding like puffing billy. Carol sensibly halted below me and posed for photographs with the locals. Going down for me is actually worse than going up but anyway we have done a small part of the Great Wall which is more than some who come to China do.
After that is was off to see the Government owned Jade Carvery. The work is stunning. I thought Jade only came in greens but it comes in lots of other colours even red and deep blue, Carol bought a few trinkets, I wanted to buy one of the balls with 5 other balls inside it but it’s too heavy to carry home. I’ll have to hunt out a lump and make one myself now that I know how it’s done. Then we had lunch which today was KFC organised by May but we had to eat in isolation lest the others eating in the restaurant were upset by this hedonistic indulgence.
Then off to the Summer Palace. Built by one “dragon lady” to satisfy her whims at a time when the country was in bad shape. Seems to be a recurring theme for Chinese Emperors from times past, stuff the people I want a palace now! It’s a vast expanse of sheer indulgence even a marble boat so she could have an afternoon “afloat” without the boat moving. All the locals made passage for us impossible, we should have hired a pedallo and pedalled around the lake...
To fill in time before wet went to see the Chinese Acrobats we spent an hour at the “Markets”. It was all very clean and spacious but show interest in an item and the bargaining is on. Carol snared a very nice ladies silver Rolex watch for 40 Yuan (AUD$8.80) we know it’s genuine the lady told us it is…
The Chinese Acrobats are simply sensational, a breathtaking experience. From nubiles tying themselves in knots to the finale of the big spherical cage with 5 motor bikes whizzing around inside it.
At last the Peking Duck for dinner, a fitting end to a very full day (as per the itinerary).
A note re the Beijing “fog”. It’s not fog, its smog, when wind blows it goes away and when it starts raining the visibility improves. Visibility today was bad, down to less than 1Km then we had a nice shower and I can see for miles.
Flying to Shanghai tomorrow for 3 nights, then on to HK.