Great Wall and Great Datong

Trip Start Jan 16, 2009
Trip End May 26, 2009

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Friday, February 13, 2009

We are no longer in Beijing or with Becca or on a group tour! Going it alone!!
Well almost, Declan from Ireland is stalking us to Xi'an a little bit...

Since our last entry we did manage to get to the Great Wall!
We booked onto a tour where we got to see the Ming Tombs too, and a free lunch!
On the bus there we had a commentary, in Chinese, of the sights out of the window... great.
When we were at the ming tombs we were given a tour in Chinese with the rest of the coach, the leader woman had a flag and everything, see pictures of us blending in seamlessly to a chinese tour group.
Our free lunch was at a jade museum / shop scam kinda place, but there was free rice and fish that we had to eat with chopsticks at a table of actual chinese people. How embarrasing. Still not totally mastered the chopsticks... Declan let the side down and used Emma W's spoon, poor show.

We went to the Badaling section of the wall, which is the most reconstructed, most touristy and nearest to Beijing. But it was actually dead good. When we got to the wall we turned left and not lucky right, henceforth avoiding the chinese. Though actually it wasn't heaving as it was off season, so brown and more brown. Got lots of pictures including a group shot which required the tripod Tom's been carrying around not using for ages and timer switch. Much to the amusement of the Chinese people who watched us.

According to the Lonley Planet (LP here on in)we are now men as we have stepped on the great wall, which is good to know!

We got back to Beijing at 5pmish and were knackered so went to the noodle place next to our hotel for massive amounts of noodles and rice for under 2pounds. Wooo!
Then we had to pack all our things up again and become tortoise people again as the next day, Thursday we moved on.

Becca left at 8am to get the underground to the airport, (Becca did you get back ok? let us know). And the trio became a duo.
We got a taxi to Beijing West train station, after we'd talked to a woman on the phone who explained to the driver where it was... half way there he got out and cleaned his entire taxi witha  feather duster. Very odd.
But we got on out train and met declan, with 15 minutes to spare... We had got 6hour train tickets for 31RMB, which is about 3pounds, and now we found out the joys of 3rd class. Definatley not on a tour now.
We had "hard seats" but at least we had a table! The picture we took doesn't quite capture the atmosphere. But gives a good idea.
So 6 hours later we followed to crowd out to Datong. Now the LP doesn't rate Datong and we can see why. BUT, our hostel is only 35RMB/night (3pounds50) which is a bargain. Now it may only have squat toilets, showers that are open at very odd times and beanbags for pillows, but we really can't complain too much.
We went to the CITS man (tourist info) and booked some transport to the Yungang caves for the next day and asked him to look into getting us out of here as all the trains are booked up weeks in advance, can't imagine why! We went to somewhere for tea which was like a buffet, I chose by pointing at what a chinese man was eating, it worked pretty well. Declan somehow got Tofu not chicken, fail. We met an american and a turkish girl who had been to the caves earlier in the day and said they were well worth the trip to Datong. They were hanging around the station as theyd met someone who said he could get them on a train to Beijing.
This morning, Friday we went to the caves, aka the caves of 50 000 buddas and they were pretty spectacular. So many buddas everywhere! It has however got colder here, prob due to coming back west and not being in a city. The best cave was cave 5 with a MASSIVE budda in it, 20m or something tall and painted gold.
We think we've managed to get onto a bus out of here tommorrow morning at 8am to Pingyao (beautiful says the LP) via Tiguan, so fingers crossed will keep you posted 
Love Emma and Emma
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emmaandemma on

Buddah Buddah
Be not confused, tis I Becca! I got home safe but only after begging 15Y off a random western guy in the street because the train ticket to the airport cost 25Y. The ticket seller then seemed unable to understand my request for a ticket and would only tell me that the first train was at 6am. By this point I am bricking it but luckily a lovely chinese guy takes pity on me, helps me buy a ticket and generally calms me down :) Suprised Paul in Huddersfield so ended up having 4 hours sleep in 48 and crashed hard at about 8 yesterday! Woke up at 6 and had curry for brekkie, good times! In other news my Grandma died while I was away so will not be starting work on Monday but going to a funeral instead. Will transfer your money asap ER. Hope you get out of Datong OK. Keep on having fun and thanks for having me along. Love Becca xx
ps ER, I found some more AWESOME postcards on my flight of bits of lufthansa planes, will show you when I get back xx

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