Our trip to the wall started early. The tour included a free breakfast before we left at 7:00am. As there was only 3 on the tour - us and another Brit called Flash (real name Gordon) - we had a car not a mini bus. The route went out past Olympic park and saw the stadium. We had opted to go to the section at Mutianyu as it is less crowded. It took a couple of hours to get there and we decided on the wimp way up in a chair lift. We had 4 hours at the top and spent most of the time just in awe at the wall itself - it really is impressive and is difficult to comprehend how they ever managed to construct it. We had fantastic views of the wall going over the hills into the distance. The views from the top were stunning both onto the Beijing side and into the hills - it helped that it was a gorgeous day. The walk along the wall was quite tough - very steep with lots of steps but all in all worth it. All I can do is quote Richard Nixon 'this is a Great Wall'. We descended from the wall by toboggan - well a sled on wheels down a steel slide - it was fun and a little different. Fran was very cautious and went very slowly down - had too push herself down the last bit!
We got back early and went off for a walk around the locality of the hotel - through the back streets, the market and then round the Beihai lake. Our hotel was on a main street with lots of modern shops all looking quite westernised. As soon as you moved off into the back streets, it was very different - still the old China with kebab stalls, noodles steaming, and men selling all manner of things from little carts. The market was vast - Fran was trying to work out what all the vegetables were. The local park was round a large lake and was full of people walking their dogs (not on a lead which created chaos from time to time), rickshaws etc. People were swimming in the lake, playing Table Tennis & Chinese Chequers beside it as well as the more leisurely pursuits like drinking & eating,