A day of pouring rain put an end to the proposed bike ride (I'm sure I'll have other opportunities) and meant, instead, more Peking Opera, this time in the most beautiful old Chinese theatre with a highly decorated old fashioned tea-house attached. The audience sit around little tables and are provided with pots of jasmine tea and snacks (orange segments, dried fruit and nuts) to eat whilst watching the performance on the small square stage. It only lasts about an hour and is quite expensive but, as always, a visual feast.
Well, the 10 km hike defeated me - not so Bob, he made it to the end, but I opted out after a gruelling 1-2 kms! It was a part of the wall that I hadn't been to before and was quite spectacular, so I got some good photos but it was also almost vertical in places, with treacherously broken steps and parts that had to be climbed on all fours. When it became obvious that either I was going to be there for several days or have to be stretcherd off (neither of which was actually possible), the guide mentioned the magic words 'short-cut'. It wasn't, in fact. I still walked the length of the wall but at ground level! I was taken down a very steep slope on the side of the mountain, then followed the wall along a narrow track and eventually met up with the others at the reataurant where we were having lunch. It was disappointing, but realistically the only viable option.
Back in Beijing Bob and I said our final goodbyes, he was flying back to Toronto the next day and I was catching the overnight train to Hangzhou that night. The train was very new and sleek and quiet. One hardly felt one was moving. It goes without saying that I shared again with 3 Chinese guys. It was pouring again when we arrived in Hangzhou and I then did a pretty stupid thing - I got into an unmarked taxi - in other words, not a taxi at all, just a private guy who hadn't a clue where he was, where he was going or how he was going to get there. Hangzhou is famous for its beautiful lake, which is indeed exquisite, in spite of the rain and general mistyness and we spent 2 hours driving around the lake in search of my hotel, which was actually about 10 minutes away. When we eventually found it, the driver wanted 100 yuan (an enormous amount in taxi terms - they are actually very cheap). He followed me in to the hotel, shouting and yelling and making such a scene that I gave him the money as that was the only way I was going to get rid of him.
The next day dawned dry and quite bright and I went on a boat trip on the lake, which is surrounded by misty mountains, willow trees, every kind of tree in blossom, hump-back bridges, all beautifully designed to appeal to the senses, all artfully arranged to look like a Chinese painting! It is a holiday weekend in China however, (nothing to do with Easter, to which there is no reference whatsoever). Tomorrow is Tomb-Sweeping day, when the tombs of ancestors are visited and swept(?), so the Chinese were out en masse and all intent on having a good time - there was music being played, singing, dancing, families out ( with their clearly doted-upon one child)and lots of happy, smiling people!
Time is nearly up, so very happy Easter to everyone! Until the next time.