Saturday, 12 March 2016

China - Part 2

To better enjoy the photos, please click on them to increase their size.

The skies of Beijing seemed to be greyer than ever, as we set out on day 3.

Day 3 - Jade factory
             Yuyongguan section of the Great Wall of China
             Glimpse of the Olympic Stadium
             Visit to a Ceramic factory and lunch
             Chinese foot massage
             Peking Duck Feast
             'The Legend of Kung Fu' performance

             One of the few negatives of this tour was the obligitatory visit to the State owned businesses, promoting 'historic' Chinese products. I am not a shopper at the best of times and most certainly not when I am travelling.
Our visit to the Jade factory was enroute to The Great Wall. Alas, someone purchased a piece of jade jewellery that had to be adapted. Little did we know that this would reduce our time on the wall to 1 hour 40 minutes! ................. Yes you can imagine my feelings when we were told how little time we would have.

The wall was shrouded in heavy mist and fog. It was difficult to see it snaking its way along the mountain ridges.

Our climb of the Jugongguan section begins. 
On passing the 1st tower the reality of the hard work before us, was immediate. The hundreds of steps were of various heights and depths and shot straight up. For the huge steps, we used the railing to haul ourselves upwards, but the railing was low so the body was awkwardly bent. The energy spent  soon had us wanting to discard the layers for the very cold conditions we set out in, but this was impossible, given the wet conditions. My thoughts turned to the workers who created the wall so long ago - 770BC.
 I've also just learnt of an annual marathon held on the wall! [Utube Great Wall Marathon, held in a different area to where we hiked.]
      View from 2nd to 3rd tower.
View from 3rd to 4th tower, snow beginning to fall.
I so wanted to make a dash up to the 4th tower, but sanity prevailed. The slippery conditions and the irregular steps made it too difficult to judge how long it would take and only 45 mins remained before we had to be back on the coach. UGH!
We had been told that the mountains were spectacular in this region, but the mist and fog were reluctant to reveal their beauty.
I love this distant, lense view, across the valley.
The descent begins - the next 3 shots, give an idea of the rapid increase in elevation that we experienced, during the arduous climb. 
                     Descent to tower 2.
                     Descent to tower 1.
24 hours later, the wall was a magical wonderland. This photo is from the BBC weather page. 
If only  ...........!

Back on the coach, we rushed to lunch, but not before we toured the ceramic workshop and gift shop, within the restaurant complex. An extremely interesting process and such delicate work, but more time on the wall would have been preferable.
A damp, foggy view of the Olympic complex followed, enroute to our much awaited Chinese foot massage. Our feet were soaked for 10 minutes in a foot bath of hot water, infused with tea and herbs. During this time we listened to a lecture on Traditional Chinese Medicine. Interesting, but the catch was that the highly qualified Traditional Doctors, then proceeded to consult each one us, as the massage took place. They looked at our tongue, palm and skin and then informed us of our health issues and the herbal remedies they would provide to facilitate healing. Because of the pressure tactics, one or 2 people actually paid quite large sums for these medicines. We believe Andy was able to reverse these expenditures.

Feeling a little disillusioned, but the legs definitely reinvigorated, we travelled to our Peking Duck Banquet. For me it was tasty, but not a meal I would be rushing to have again.
Our evening concluded with a visit to The Red Theatre to experience the sensational Kung Fu performance of 'The Legend of Kung Fu'. This was a high level performance of the traditional Kung Fu art, combined with modern dance and acrobatics. The average age of the performers was 17, but it was the ability of the much younger members, that had us gasping in awe. The production tells the story of a young boy trying to fulfil his dream of becoming a Kung Fu master. On the road to enlightenment, the young monk encounters many difficulties and temptations.

Exercise routine to warm up for the performance.
       Opening of the show.

Day 4 -  Silk factory
              Beijing Capital Museum, opened 2006
               Summer Palace
              Pandas - Beijing Zoo

Again we set off in drizzle. An hour or two later light snow fell for a short time. The remainder of the day was drab, but dry.

One of the ancient city gate towers.
Silk factory display, but bed linen was the selling line. I soon tired of the hard sell and drifted outside to wait.
My reward was to discover snow falling. 
A couple of hours were spent in the recently refurbished Beijing Capital Museum, telling the history of the city.

The overwhelmingly huge foyer of the museum.


After another delicious Chinese buffet, we drove to the Summer Palace, the largest, best preserved royal park in China, with its vast lake, gardens, temples, and pavilions. Initially built in 1750 by Emperor Qianglong, its design achieves 'harmony with nature, to soothe and be pleasing to the eye.'

This is most certainly achieved, even on a grey day.

The Grand Canal -  1440 years old, UNESCO listed, 1776 km long waterway. The longest artificial waterway in the world.

An hour was spent visiting the Pandas at Beijing Zoo, before we returned to our hotel.

On our return to our hotel, it was time to thank our marvellous tour guide, Andy. We would travel to Yichang on the Yangtze River, on the No 49 fast train, the following day. At Yichang, we would board our river cruise.

There had been a few irksome events, but overall our visit to Beijing was exciting and educational. I loved it. When travelling, and especially in a group, one has to go with the flow and make the most of what is on offer.

The grey skies were disappointing but not unexpected. We were not complaining, especially when just a week later the pollution levels hit 400. 15 is a good level. I would love to read your comment.


  1. My husband visited the great wall a couple of years ago. It was summer and the temperature was well over 100 degrees F. Those pandas are so cute!

  2. Beautifully shot. That last image tells it all, doesn't it...

  3. I found this whole post fascinating Helen. The history of China is amazing, to have a channel built 1440 years ago 1776km long... that is an incredible feat.