Toboganning down the Great Wall (?)- now thats one thing I didnt think I'd be doing!?
Climbed up to the top of The Great Wall and toboganned down - what a laugh! The Great Wall is amazing, what a feat and the views are to die for, but couldnt help but think of our VP at work as I climbed up and down huge, uneven stairs with no handrail - those pesky ancient Chinese obviously didnt do a risk assessment before they started work :) - the constant brain washing at work has definitely paid off on me...:)。 After leaving The Wall, travelled back to the city and then had a leaving meal with my fellow travellers as the Trans-Siberian tour is now over! We went to this little tea-house where the owner and her husband gave us a home cooked meal. It was down one of the many Hutongs (narrow lanes full of shops and houses), and although the location looked a little dodgy, the food was fabulous and better than I have tasted elsewhere - the meal (about 10 different dishes)，complete with all the beer you could drink was only around 7 pounds. The highlight was my first tea ceremony where we tasted lots of different teas and the owner explained a little bit about what all the various teas cured - it was really interesting. I was on my own for the first time the next day and it was good to do things at my own pace and I felt quite good. Tried to visit the Forbidden City, but found it closed for a half day so went up to a beautiful park of Bei Hai and watched the locals, dancing, singing, playing games and was interested to note today's newspapers displayed page by page in a glass cabinet for all to read. I then walked to the old part of Beijing where I spent a long time looking around. Had a slight mini panic as I seemed to be walking for ages before I could find the tube station I wanted to go to, but found it eventually and got back to my hotel before dark so that was good. My best day on the trip followed with a visit to the Summer Palace - this is the place the Emperor, his wives, concubines and enuchs went when it got too hot in Beijing. Once you entered the Forbidden City, you werent allowed to leave except when you were accompanied - the only man allowed in the City was the Emperor - to avoid any chance of the 'seed' being polluted - hence the enuchs - is that the right spelling?? The palaces, corridors, bridges and lakes were beautiful but impossible to walk around in one day. There were at least 50 different temples, a 17 arch bridge, their own opera theatre, islands, beautiful walkways, absolutely beautiful. The emperor even had a fake street built so that his wives, enuchs and concumbines could play at 'shopkeepers' pickpockets and generally play act what life was like on the outside. Had an expensive and not very good lunch in Souzou Street, but it was worth it for the atmosphere. Unfortunately, the horrible British burned most of the temples in 1860 during the Opium Wars so it had to be rebuilt by the Empress Cixi - this fact was mentioned at EVERY SINGLE temple, needless to say I kept my nationality under wraps there! She was quite famous and built a huge boat with wood, painted so that it looked like marble with the money she was supposed to use to improve the Imperial Navy, which turned out to be a bit of a bad move when the Boxer's rebelled against the 'foreign invaders' - ie us. Guess we had our chance at world domination and they have theirs now :)。 Had a couple of funny experiences that day, some schoolkids ran up to me and said 'you have beautiful hair madam' - I thought 'aye right - whatever'. They seemed a bit young for a scam, and they asked to take my photograph, so I agreed - they all took turns in standing beside me - hmmm, strange....but whatever turns you on I suppose. Someone else took a photograph of me with her baby.....!??? -if I get this amount attention, can imagine what all the young, attractive Westerners get:)。 The transportation is very cheap (10p for the bus and 20p for the tube)and very efficient - however it is VERY busy - packed like sardines doesnt even come close - I found that out today when I unwittingly tried to get to the shopping centre during the rush hour - well, I wanted to experience life in another country, I am certainly doing that now! Squat toilets are becoming the norm now, and its not that bad when you get used to it - if you remember to sit the right way and dont splash down your own leg.....:)。The main irritation is the spitting, not just a little spit, but a huge one - cant think of the word for it, but sure you know what I mean. Its not reserved for grotty old blokes either - young beautiful women do it too - its everywhere - that and the slurping of their soup - but I guess we all have our funny little ways! They are also very unselfconcious and when I was in a bar some guy had an accordian and 2 or 3 locals just stood up and starting singing - nice...:). My accent is particularly bad as I found out when I tried to buy stamps - managed after some pointing but he wasnt very patient. Also, the only word they seem to understand is 'beer', - honestly its true!!! I was out for about 30 minutes Westerner yesterday, but dont feel threatened at all - they stare at you, but just ignore you mostly. The majority of tourists at the sights seems to be Chinese themselves! The receptionist is giving me looks now, so will finish. Expect another update from Beijing soon - no tv or wi fi so its my contact with the english speaking world - feel free to press the delete button though！:)