Think this day is slightly out of order!
Early start this morning to get ahead of the crowds. It is a public holiday in China today and tomorrow so the world and his wife seemed to be on the road. We got up at 6.15am to get ready to leave by 7. Luggage moved to two day rooms so that we could shower before the beginning of our train journey.
The trip to get to the great wall at Mutianyu, about 90km from Beijing, took almost 3 hours, much of it in heavy traffic. (Think of the bank holiday get away at home only worse!)
The section of the wall that we went to has been quite heavily prepared for tourists and it was pretty busy. When we arrived at about 10am, we headed straight to the cable car to take us to the top of the hill that the wall sits on.
The weather was quite misty, or it may have been the effects of the pollution from Beijing. We spent a couple of hours walking along the top of the wall, through a number of command towers. The wall follows the contours of the land and as a result, goes up and down. The climb to the final command post was epic, with very steep steps which seemed to go on for ages. The view at the top was great, although it would have been better without the mist!
We then retraced our steps back to the cable car and headed down, through the obligatory range of tourist stands selling the usual tat. Before heading back onto our bus, we had a quick snack and shared two pancakes, one savoury with egg, onion and a local bread, and the other sweet, with chocolate and banana. To quench our thirsts, we had a small can of cold Beijing beer which our tour leader negotiated down from 45 yuan to 10 yuan (about £1).
The drive back to Beijing was far quicker and when we arrived, we went for a quick drink then back to the room for a shower before having some food. At 5.45, we met in the lobby to walk about 10 minutes to the bus that would take us to the railway station for our 4000km, 44 hour journey to Lhasa. This coincided with a darkening of the clouds and thunder, lightning and rain! We all had to go back into our main bags to retrieve our waterproofs before venturing out into the weather. The journey to the station was uneventful and when we arrived we went through security, scanners and our bags were x-rayed. We all agreed to pay 20 yuan to have the ‘red hat’ service where our bags were carried to the train and supposedly allowed us priority boarding. This turned out not to be the case and when time came to board it was a bit of a scrum! We found our compartment and Ed and I are sharing with 4 others from our trip. However, two Chinese people were insistent that we had the wrong carriage and this resulted in us struggling to get back into the corridor with all our bags. Eventually, our guide confirmed that we were correct and the Chinese thought this was hilarious!
Our first evening was spent having a couple of beers in our compartment with our roomies and lights out at 10pm meant it was time for me to climb (and I mean climb) up into the top bunk.