As Walls go...It was Great!

Trip Start Aug 16, 2002
Trip End Jun 10, 2003

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Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Tuesday, I decided to book the trip to the Wall via the hotel, hassle free, so I could be picked up and dropped off at the hotel.  So up early for a 7.30 am start.  It was also a good way to meet people and I got talking to a couple from the hotel and then a young Austrian girl who I sat next to. 

I ended up doing the walk with a Kiwi, Oz and 2 French.  We were dropped off at 11.30am at Jinshanlang and pointed in the right direction.  Off we went, apart from some rusting amusement rides that looked abandoned a long time ago, on the side of the trail up to the wall, it was very quiet and there seemed to be only about a dozen of us wandering to the wall.  
Starting the walk from JinshanglingMy traveling companions
We found the wall in front of us (you can't miss it really) and climbed up, it was pretty steep and the steps are irregular, after 5 minutes I was a little out of breath, but soon got used to the heat and the climb, a lot of what we did was up and down rather than along and some parts were quite worn away, we had to go alongside a couple of times where it was missing or just too steep. 
The Wall steep and falling apart in placesAmazing viewsThrough one of the watch towersWonderful Wall
We were surprisingly alone for most of the journey.  The wall stretched on forever in front and behind, surrounded by lush green hills, winding up and down.  The walk we did to Simitai took us about 4 hours with lots of rest stops, it was 10Km long.  We weren't bothered too much by the odd postcard/drinks sellers.  they walk alongside you in their flip flops (while you have your walking shoes - ready for the long walk!!) silently then when you stop to rest at a tower they try and sell you something.  They weren't too persistent and just stopped when we convinced them no meant no, then further along the next group would get you!  But it was OK.
Flying ChinamanI did it!!! Arriving in Simatai
It was great for me to have some company and conversation for a change.  Ben, one of group, was a strange mix Malaysian brought up on an island off Scotland and then lived in  New Zealand, he had really traveled, seemed he had seen the world and he wasn't finished yet.  Funny, but I found him quite attractive, typical of me, I thought!.  At the end of the day I went back to their end of town where we had a beer, met up with some other travelers and went for a nice simple meal with two of their friends who spoke Chinese.  Anyway the wall is awesome, spectacular, an amazing achievement.

The Wednesday I took it easy, had nice dim sum at the Gloria Plaza Hotel and picked up my visa for Vietnam.  I then went for a fitting for my cheongsam, which is looking good. 

Then a day trip to the Summer Palace, once named the Qingyi Yuan or the Garden of Clear Ripples, which was first constructed in 1750, then demolished by the Anglo French allied forces in 1860.  The Quin Dynasty started to rebuild it in 1886 with funds it had stolen from the Imperial Navy and other sources.  It was then renamed the Yihe Yuan or Garden of Health and Harmony and was supposed to serve as a summer resort for the Empress Dowager Cixi.
Me at the Summer PalaceBoat Yard at the summer palaceMarble BoatBoating in Kunming Hu

Summer PalaceChanglang at Summer Palace 700 meters long passageMore detail at Summer palaceDetail at Summer Palace

Friday, last day in Beijing and along to the Station for my hard seat to Xian, which with the help of some French people I met one of whom spoke Chinese, we managed to upgrade to hard sleeper, we shared a 6 bunk cabin.  It was a long trip from 5.30pm to 7.40am.  I was grateful for the hard sleeper and the company.

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