Tues 29th - the Great Wall experience

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July 29th 2014
Published: July 31st 2014
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Tuesday, July 29 was the day we went on the Great wall of China. Not content with the easy way most tourists would go, we decided to travel to the Wild Wall section called Jiankou. After a one hour near vertical climb up a ravine and a rock face, we struggled up to the highest watchtower #34 in the Jiankou wall called Zhengbeilou. The views were fantastic only marred by the thick layer of fog/smog that encompasses all of Beijing Region at this time of year. We then proceeded to walk along the unrestored wall in the direction of Mutyinau. Seeing the terrain at first hand made one really marvel at the construction that was undertaken so many thousands of years ago. The height of the wall, the length of the wall and the difficulty of the geography is mind blowing. We took about three hrs to eventually reach the restored section of the wall, and meet the other tourists "enjoying" this walk from the other direction. Walking/climbing/descending in 38 degrees C was really a sweaty experience as you can see from the photos. We could have taken the Cable car down from watchtower #14,but macho minds prevailed so we continued down the wall to Tower #10, and then struggled down what seemed to be million near vertical steps to finally reach the car park . To say we were knackered would be the understatement of the century. That cold beer never touched the sides of the throat. The drive back to Beijing took about two hrs. I think my travelling companion was asleep before the car started up !

Next morning, we decided to check out the Beijing Olympic Stadium nicknamed the Bird Cage. Another easy ride on the metro to the Olympic Sports Centre and we were there. What a design, and what an incredible structure has been delivered. Along with a few other tourists, we wandered right thru the highest level 5 and got the panoramic view of inside the stadium. Apparently and regrettably, it seems that the Bird Cage is a bit of a white elephant, and is rarely used now - about three times a year for concerts.

In the afternoon, we departed Beijing for Pingyao to the south west of Beijing on a high speed CRH train after experiencing the crush of one of the worlds largest railway station at Beijing West. Tens of thousands of people all clamouring to get to their train via checkin, meeting rooms, platforms and finally carriage, but we made it thru and settled into our first class seats for the four hr journey.

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