A Great (Wall) Time In Beijing
Trip Start Apr 16, 2010
25Trip End Jul 24, 2010
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17/5/2010 - Summer Palace
Another extensive lie-in saw the lads stroll into the restaurant for breakfast at about 11am; Tim and Ollie enjoying a calorific stack of 5 pancakes, whereas Dan enjoyed a more leisurely four and Stef a modest 3 but he also consumed 2 mini croissants.This bears no relevance, but we thought you might want to know. After catching two tubes and enduring 20 stops on a bus we finally arrived at the Summer Palace. It was a marvellous collection of old style temples and buildings set around the magnificent Kunming lake. We took a pedalo and tore up the placid waters, reaching speeds of up to an astonishing two knots and drifting about no end... The hour passed at great speed with Ollie up to his usual devisive antics rocking the boat from side to side
18/5/2010 - Beijing Zoo
A painful 5.00am start saw the boys travel 2.5 hours to the Great Wall before having to turn around due to bad weather. Heartbreak. Salt was violently rubbed into our wounds as disaster struck on the journey home, in the form of perfectly parted clouds and a picture perfect blue sky... You coudln't have picked a better day for trekking. A 5 hour round trip for nothing had cost us a tenner each, and even that was after some strong negotiations. The boys were left deflated, dejected and depressed. It was at that moment, sitting sullenly in our dorm, that we decided it was time to have as much fun as physically possible!! "To Beijing Zoo" cried Stefan, and we bundled out of the room to head for the tube! We soon arrived, and had, well, an average day at best. It really was, OK. We enjoyed seeing the animals, especially the pandas, but we've all clearly become safari men, and found it hard to see animals kept in such grim conditions...
19/5/2010 - The Great Wall of China
A painful 5.00am start saw the boys travel 2.5 hours to the Great Wall, this time in ideal sunny conditions and with our new companion, Nate, from Dublin, who had joined our gang for the 10.5km hike from Jinshanling to Simitai. Having dodged a few touts on entrance, we found that we had the wall pretty much to ourselves, and enjoyed a glorious and breathtaking few hours on the Great Wall. The views of beautifully lush countryside sprawled out for miles and the wall itself was fascinating, and in parts fairly derelict. We negotiated some hefty inclines and enough steps to leave us with some stiff calves this morning... The whole experience became even more surreal when we encountered a different kind of beauty when nearing the end of our trek. Four bikini clad women on the horizon were clearly blocking our route through. Was it a mirage?? Had Nate forked out to treat his new friends?? No. This was Miss Bikini 2010, and sure enough, in 500 metres time, we were sheepishly wading through a sea of about 40 models. We weren't sure where to look, and quickly made it through to the other side. PHEW!
In the evening, Nate took the four of us out, along with his Chinese friend Leon, to allow us to sample our first authentic Chinese hotpot. The meal was incredible, a real treat for the pallet. A large cauldron of bubbling broth was inset into the middle of the table, heated underneath, into which we threw a variety of raw meats and vegetables, which cooked before us. Once cooked, it was survival of the fittest, depending on who had the best control of their chopsticks. Ollie put in a fine performance, but it was Beijinger Leon who put us all to shame with his chopstick wizardry. It was a great evening, and particularly kind of Nate to pay for the whole meal - (if you're reading this Nate - top lad!)
Today's our last full day in Beijing
Be in touch, take care, lots of love, speak soon, thanks for reading, ciao for now...