1st Stop

Trip Start Jan 29, 2008
Trip End Apr 30, 2008

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Hello from the other side of the world!  It's sooooooo cold here, minus 8 when we landed!  Sarah didn't even pack a jumper either, but we've survived so far.  Day 2 in Beijing but we didn't really do anything much yesterday.  We arrived at 7am and quickly found out three things about China.  They love hocking up phlegm anywhere that takes their fancy - we've had a few near misses!  Secondly the taxi drivers don't speak English and everyone on the roads drive like lunatics - there doesn't appear to be any rules of the road.  I didn't think that Sarah would make it as far as the tourist information centre in the back seat. 

Anyhow, we found our way via the much safer underground to a youth hostel in the middle of the City.  Nothing ever sleeps here but we still managed to fall asleep mid afternoon after a walk and a KFC (shocking I know).  We're blaming jet lag.  We had a restless night, mainly because the heat in here is unreal and it's so noisy outside with the windows open, but we got up first thing this morning to take an all day tour

We got picked up by Benny, our Chinese guide for the day and had our own private tour (quiet time of year I guess!).  We did a load of factory tours (we think Benny was on commission).  We saw how jade is possessed (that's what Sarah put in her diary?!), and went on a silk tour and a pearl tour.  Needless to say I bought something in each.  I'm going to have to calm down after my first day! 

We went to the Ming tombs which was ok, some pretty buildings but not all we'd hoped and then was the piece de resistance, the great wall of China.  Sarah's goal for the round the world trip has now been met and she can go home happy!  I imagined it would be wider and easier to walk along but no, we picked the steepest incline on the whole wall and decided to climb it!!!  Legs will ache tomorrow.  The views were incredible though, well worth the hike. 
We also went to Dr Tea - the traditional and the largest tea retailer in China.  We went into a tiny little room with a table in the middle.  It was the kind of room I thought I might have to take my shoes off and sit on the floor for, but they had seats and obviously learnt their lesson when getting foreigners to take off their shoes.  We tested different types of Chinese tea and learnt how to drink it like ladies.  That was interesting but probably not as much as watching Sarah at lunch trying to use chopsticks.  We had a traditional Chinese lunch which is way better than the Little Yang Sing (if you know China town in Manchester) and I think I performed quite well with the chopsticks, unlike Sarah! 

Lois joined us on all of the above and also joined me in laughing at Sarah.  She has now collapsed on the bed (9 pm) and is unlikely to be up again till morning.  We've done well today I think, considering we should be really jet lagged now.  I will now attempt to put some pictures online for you so the whole thing comes more alive and you can be even more jealous! 

Mother dearest, expect a large package coming home soon, I can't carry everything I've bought today and my rucksack...

Might be on again tomorrow night everyone else as we're off to the forbidden city.

Trying to get everything down on the net is impossible - Forbidden city was absolutely huge and an absolute maze.  It wasn't as ornate as we thought it would be and we were a bit disappointed with the fact that all the rooms had been turned into museum rather than left in their original state.  There were displays upon displays of mirrors and cooking utensils etc.  Eventually the cold got to us and we headed back - you can only really stay outside for a few hours before you start just wanting to go home to get feeling back in your extremities.  The wind chill is unreal.
Despite this we were up early the next morning and headed down to the Temple of Heaven.  That place is pretty cool, a lot of people go there first thing in the morning and do Tai Chi and stuff in below freezing temperatures - rather them than me, but it was cool to watch for one morning only!
Beijing was also our first opportunity to use the priority cards I'd gotten for the airport lounges.  You can tell who the student is among the three of us - one person in particular had no qualms about filling a carry on bag with pot noodles, crackers, drinks etc etc!
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shaunaghrussell on

Hey Hon
Myself and Marie are here and having read your blog are so jealous. It looks and sounds like you are having a fab time with the girls and all is well so far! We miss you loads but have consoled ourselves over some vino and curry last night!! Some things never change.
Stay safe and have fun
xx S&M

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