Final Days


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August 7th 2018
Published: August 7th 2018
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Mongolian National Museum
Our last day in Mongolia was a quiet one. We had time in the morning for a leisurely breakfast and then a chance to repack our suitcases. We checked out at 11-30 then left our luggage in storage while we were taken to the Mongolian National Museum. Here we were shown through ten rooms which cover the span of Mongolian history from Paeleolithic times to the modern day. Tonga talked us through each of the rooms, elaborating on aspects of the exhibits including one about Chinggis Khan. The Soviet era and the coming of democracy in the early 1990 swere also very interesting. I was fascinated, as my knowledge of this area of history was very sketchy so this was enlightening.

We returned to the hotel for lunch and then, on our way to the airport, we stopped at the State Department Store. On the 6th floor there was a huge souvenir section which provided many areas to browse. We ended up buying some articles to take home including a new purse for me and other bits and bobs for family. Then it was back to the bus and out to the airport. Here we farewelled Tonga and once through
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Deerstone outside the Museum
passport control and security found a café to wait for our flight. This was delayed by about an hour but we eventually boarded our Air China flight for Beijing. We were amused by the stern warning over the PA that reminded us there were harsh penalties for anyone trying to interfere with the staff in the performance of their duties as the People’s Republic of China has laws about this.

On arrival in Beijing we headed for Passport control. We had to record our fingerprints at a machine. Fletcher was OK but the machine could not recognise my left hand as I have no fingerprint on the middle finger as it was torn off in an accident. We headed for the desk but the officer asked about a visa. Now we had been told that we did not need a visa if we were staying in China for less than 72 hours, but we had not been told that we would need to get a temporary visa when we landed. After two or three puzzled attendants did not know what to do with us we were told to go to another counter to apply for our temporary pass. This
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Our group on the Great Wall
also applied to Olga, Elizabeth and our Canadian friends. The Serbians went through without any problems. When we found the right counter we waited for about an hour, as there were only two officers and a huge queue. One of the women told us that she had to get this stamp just to go from one terminal to another!! Bureaucracy gone mad. Once through we located our luggage and then emerged to be met by our Chinese guide, David and Aleksander and Dragana who had been patiently waiting for us.

By this time it was just after midnight. We then had an hour’s drive into the centre of Beijing where we checked into our hotel, Prime Hotel. It was still very hot and the forecast for the next day was 40 degrees. The morning excursion was to the Imperial Palace and 8am was the departure time. Fletcher and I opted out as we had been there before. We arranged to be picked up at 11-30am to go to the Great Wall. When thy returned to pick us up the others hurried to their rooms for a shower while we sat and chatted to David over a beer, We then
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View of the Wall
set out again about 12-20pm to drive to China’s well known landmark. This took over 2 hours on bumper to bumper crammed “free”ways. Once we arrived at Badaling section of the wall we first went to the Badaling Hotel for lunch. This was very tasty with plenty of delicious food. We finally emerged to walk to the wall about 3-30pm It was very hot with high humidity and we were all soon dripping in perspiration. This was my third visit so I was not too fussed about climbing too far. We did make it past the first two towers, without lots of stops for photos and rest. It is an awe-inspiring sight. We spent about an hour there and then met everyone back at the hotel. The drive back was much quicker and we arrived at the hotel, hot and bothered, about 6pm. We had an hour to rest and change and then we were taken to one of the Quian Jude Duck restaurants, which took another hour through brightly lit streets.

Our meal there was fantastic. Apart from the Peking duck there were many other great dishes, The evening was also to be our last altogether and the
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Looking up the Wall
conversation flowed freely. Back at the hotel we all said goodbye to Alex and Dragana who were leaving at 2-30am and then Kamal and Matt who were due out at 6am. We had been a happy group and gelled well in spite of our varied backgrounds.

The next morning we met Elizabeth at breakfast and then caught a taxi from the hotel to Tianamen Square. Behind the tomb of Mao is the Quianmen gate and the shopping area we discovered on our last trip. This was Elizabeth’s first visit to Beijing, so she really enjoyed seeing a different part of the city. It was very hot so we sought the shade and went inside some of the shops for the air conditioning. We bought a few more bits and pieces and then, after a cold beer in a little café, we went looking for a taxi back, This was to prove difficult, as though we found a taxi rank the first couple of drivers said no to us. Eventually a driver of an unmarked car offered to take us back to the hotel and though the fare was three times what we had paid to get here we gladly
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Fletcher on the Great Wall
agreed and was whisked back fairly quickly. Elizabeth left for home at 1-30pm and we spent the rest of the day in the hotel, having lunch in the restaurant and then drinks in the bar in the lobby. Too hot to go anywhere!!

We said goodbye to Olga at 8pm, a tearful farewell on her side as we had really enjoyed her company and she was excellent at her job. We were taken to the airport, arriving in under an hour and headed for check-in. There was a huge queue, with two groups of schoolboys which did not bode well. However, after we checked in we saw we had been given seats 5 J and K!! An upgrade to business assured that we had a great flight back, even though we were a little late and just made our connection to Adelaide.

Having waited so long to travel on the Trans-Siberian we were certainly not disappointed and would recommend this trip to anyone. One of our best ever!!


Additional photos below
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One of the gates at the Wall
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Another view from the wall
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Outside Quian Jude restaurant
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Final dinner
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Sculpture in Qianmen area


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