Our last stop in China was in the mammoth capital, Beijing! With around 20 million people living there it was much bigger than all the others we'd visited and on par with São Paulo in Brazil which also had a really big population.
We were 'warned' of the crazy smog that can engulf the city on days where the pollution is particularly heavy but on our arrival we had clear skies and decent air... It wasn't to last! The rest of the time it was quite foggy looking and really harsh on your throat. Buildings 40m or so in front were hardly visible and skyscrapers were lost to the thick smog. Even when we went out of the city for a good few hours to the Great Wall, the smog was still really bad.
That aside though we had a great long weekend in the city! Staying in Emma's new apartment it was good to be in someone's house rather than in a hostel, especially for the days we just mooched around after a busy night!
We met Emma's new work crowd on the first day. Took a trip into the city centre to see one of the oldest traditional streets in Beijing as well as an ancient temple with a huge 18m Buddha carved from one piece of wood.
We spent one day visiting a section of the Great Wall of China and what a marathon it was! The journey by bus was a mission in itself, ages from the city, dropped in the middle of nowhere and then had to get a cab for the final part of the journey! Once at the wall the temperature was in the mid 30's and the humidity can't have been far off 100%!
As always we took the stairs rather than the chair lift and by the time we reached the mountain top, which the wall snakes along, we we're flagging! It was definitely one of the hardest treks we'd done and spending the next few hours walking along a section of the wall it wasn't any better, quite literally hiking in a sauna. The wall was amazing though and well worth it! Hard to believe how old it was and the conditions that the workers built the wall in, it must have been horrific. Probably why it took over 500 years to build!
We only saw a small section of the wall but you could definitely understand the scale of it. Although even with it's height, impenetrability and distance, it didn't stop the invading countries it was built for after all!
Tourist Beijing done, the rest of the weekend we just celebrated Gemma's birthday, Emma's new job and our last weekend in Asia! We hit one of the hectic bar streets and spent a lot of time just lazing around the flat and eating! Hangover food is definitely not as good in China as at home though!
Our last stop in Asia and with a very heavy and sad goodbye we would be returning to Europe for the final few weeks. On the plus side the last month would be far more like a 'holiday' than travelling, which was definitely needed after such a manic few months, or even year!