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April 12th 2019
Published: April 12th 2019
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DAY 10 - Although the Temple of Heaven was very interesting, the really big ticket items were still to come on Wednesday. Again we left the hotel early to beat the traffic, a short, illegal park for the coach so we could run (yes, we were told to run, as the driver could receive a ticket), to the top of an overpass to take some quick shots of the Birds Nest Stadium, where the Olympics were held some years back, 2008 I think. So picture this, 18 Aussies running down footpath in Beijing, pushing the locals aside, up the steps the overpass 3 at a time (well, maybe just one at a time, quickly), across to the other side, snap a few quick pics of the Birds Nest, then a leisurely stroll in double double time back to our coach! The next 5 minutes all that could be heard was 18 x over 55's huffing & puffing! Lucky our guides, Grace & Renny had plenty to tell us while we recovered.

First proper stop today was Tian'amen Square, famous for a lot of reasons, some not discussed here though. Able to hold one million people on National Day, where everybody comes to wave a flag and support the government, no lamb or prawns on a barbie here though, just good old patriotic flag waving and cheering. Chairman Mao's tomb is featured on one side where he lays in a crystal coffin, where attendants tend to his fresh body. It was a chilly 10*C this morning so we made our way up the 'Central Access Line' to The Forbidden City, a massive compound of 4,000 buildings started by the first emperor way back when bricks & marble were carted by manpower from 12 miles away.

An couple of hours spent exploring here before a rickshaw ride through the Hutong, which is being restored at the behest of the Government, some alleyways are only a metre wide, so imagine a pack of 10 rickshaws being rocketed through these alleys by older Chinese men carrying the aforementioned 18 over 55 & slightly overweight Aussies! Glad it wasn't me pedalling, let me tell ya! We had lunch at a local home, cooked by Mum & Dad, all the usual stuff they eat, well, maybe optioned up for us anyway. Great tucker I must say. Another not so quick rickshaw ride, as after lunch, the aforementioned over 55 Aussies had also added a couple of kilo's each, so old mate up front, was huffing and puffing even more than the aforementioned Aussies running across an overpass!

Thankfully we were given an early mark by our guides so back to the hotel and off to the bottle shop for ice cream, chips & beer, before another great dinner.

DAY 11- So Thursday was the really big ticket item, The Great Wall of China, on the coach and straight ahead for 2 hours, climbing the mountain as we went. Arriving at one of the passes, the sheer enormity of the Wall really hits you, and then you notice how incredibly steep the steps are. Lucky we arrived early, and climbed a fair bit before the hoards arrived and started pushing their way up. Nearly 2 dozen tourist buses in the carpark by the time we left. The steps are amazing and difficult to climb, as they are nowhere near being uniform height and width, some steps are 2 feet up, others only 3 inches, and the depth varies as well, so it does make for an interesting time.

Now my quads, hammy's, shins, ankles, knees, calf's were screaming at me after about 10 minutes of this unfit sales rep trying to make an impression. The lungs were just about to blow a fuse as well. So, Paul, my climbing buddy from S.A. (good bloke, rides bikes & loves J.D.) & I decided to let the others scramble as far as they could, while we went to the second watchtower and enjoyed the view!

All jokes aside, never in my wildest dreams did climbing The Great Wall figure as a 'tick' moment! But....Been there....done that. And pretty bloody happy we did make the effort. Like a lot of the big sights we've seen in the US, words just don't do justice to most of what we've seen on this amazing journey. You just stand and look at some of these places and soak it all in.

Back on the bus again, lunch and onto Summer Palace which is a large park with a handful of pagoda's, a lake and some beautiful gardens. Massive amounts of people out and about this afternoon, taking it all in. This wasn't my favourite spot, too crowded for my liking.....haha...too crowded in China. Everywhere is crowded here! Even the dunnies, and that's a conversation for another day, let me tell ya!

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