Luoyang - one of China's ancient capitals

Trip Start Oct 06, 2009
Trip End Oct 27, 2009

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Flag of China  , Henan,
Sunday, October 11, 2009

Yesterday, the 9th October, we went to the Great Wall at Mutianyu a couple of hours drive to the north east of Beijing. It was as spectacular and jaw dropping as we had expected. Somehow, there's a feeling that special places like this can never impress after all the over hyping. Well, believe me: The Great Wall is a most incredible feat of engineering; endurance by the men who built it, and imagination - and it is awesome! Pintoo and I walked quite a bit of it. 

Virginia and Dutti, being hardy types, walked the steepest section.

Bizarrely, we came across a large group of quite young children [maybe year 2 or 3] from the Dulwich College International school in Beijing. They were having a packed lunch on the Wall, and then scrabbling around, making notes so that they could write their 'recount' on Monday!!
We bought a few things from the market at the base village, and then had a delicious lunch at a trout farm.

Back in Beijing, we went to a silk factory where we watched the process of making silk: absolutely fascinating. Naturally, we all bought some silk items - well we are travelling on the Silk Road!
We really packed it in today. In the early evening we went with a local guide - she was on a bike, and we travelled in cycle rickshaws, through the back alleys of Beijing known as the Hutongs, where ordinary people have lived for generations. Intriguing. A glimpse of old Beijing. We went from the Hutongs straight to the Peking Opera - and nearly didn't make it due to severe traffic jams.
We were all a bit doubtful about the idea of the opera, but decided to give it a go.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                And It was so worthwhile. A real eye opener. First we were allowed to go and watch the actors putting on their makeup.  One of the stories was of the adventures of the famous Monkey who accompanied the Tang Monk, Hsuan Zhang on his journey to India to bring Buddhist texts back to China.
Once the action started, it took us a while to get used to the high pitched singing style, but we soon started to see how much humour and sheer artistry there was in the performance. It was great fun.

The end of an action packed day.

10th October:

Visits to the Summer Palace - lovely trip on the lake; Some more silk shopping [!]; visit to the Temple of Heaven; Peking Duck dinner; then to the station for the overnight journey to Luoyang.

11th October:

We checked into the excellent Peony Hotel on the 21st floor; freshened up, then drove 2 hours to the Shaolin Temple. This was truly an astounding experience - the feats of the young monks and their discipline are a marvel. Delicious dinner! We are trying out food recommended by our guides. We ask them what they enjoyed eating, and if it sounds good, we try it! So far, so good.
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