22nd Jul 2012 - 2nd Aug 2012
The alarm went off at 4.00AM! We were on a flight to Beijing at 7.55. Outside the hotel as a cab pulled up 2 girls, also on their way to the airport asked to share the cab with us, it was a bloody squeeze. They were from the Phillipines, going home for a holiday, but it halved the cab cost. Arrived Beijing and met by our guide, Harry, a pleasant young man who was going to look after us for the next three days, he took us to our hotel and the rest of the day was free. We fancied going to the antiques market so caught a tuk tuk!!!! This was the wildest ride, the wrong way up one-way streets, over footpaths, through red lights, threading between moving cars and pedestrians, flying through intersections, all at breakneck speed. We were squeezed into a small box behind half of a small motorbike, Annette mouth open and screaming without making a sound! All the while our driver was grinning and laughing maniacally at as he weaved through traffic. We arrived safely at the huge market in time to see the stallholders start packing up.
Monday we had a 9.00am pickup and Harry took us to Tianamen Square. a huge expanse and packed with tourists, mostly Chinese people. We wended our way to the Forbidden City, packed with twice as many Chinese tourists, and it was a monday morning! The whole crowd with us sandwiched in the middle, moved slowly through brightly painted buildings and gates. The whole area was huge. Our guide made a brief mention of the tragedy of Tianamen Square and told us that he had heard it through the tourists coming from other countries not through his Chinese history as they do not talk about it.
ab) Next we are off to a local home for lunch. We went through the narrow alleys of a Hutong (very old village) then into a tiny kitchen area and they served us plate after plate of chinese food. Quite an experience. Then we went to the Summer palace of the emperor and a dragon boat ride across the lake. All of the buildings were very old and the important ones are restored (paintwork) on a regular basis so you can see what it looks like now and what the original is like. It is all amazingly well preserved really for paintwork that is 100's of years old.
Tuesday and we are off to the Great Wall at Mutianyiu, about 100 km from Beijing. A place that is further than Badaling but better and has fewer tourists. Well, that place was packed with tour buses too and we ran the long gauntlet of souvenir hawkers to the cable car. The wall here runs along the crest of a ridge of mountains so the cable car was a godsend. The wall here looks fantastic as we can see it snaking far into the distance both ways. We walked along the top, gingerly in places as the slope and steps were precarious. It was a wonderful experience, and along with the Great Pyramid, Macchu Pichu, the Parthenon, one of the dream destinations.
After the wonderful experience of the Wall we were taken for lunch, and later Peking Duck for tea.
Wednesday, July 25, Beijing.
Sunday, We sailed along the Yangtze River and through the three gorges, first the Qutang Gorge, very steep sided and narrow. Running commentary as we glided softly along. Next the Wu Gorge, still steep but a lot wider and
Monday, 30th. Check out off the boat and catch bus to the Three Gorges Dam site. A hazy misty day made it impossible to take good photos. It might be a great engineering feat but as a tourist destination it's crappy. Still the place was packed with local tourists. We were taken to lunch at a fancy restaurant and then to the airport for our flight to Shanghai.
Tuesday, 31st. ab) into an Art community (we were not really interested) It turned out to be really good. One business was photography in China. Beautiful photography of places people. Photo's of the real China.
Next off to The Yu gardens and China town. (A china town within China???????? WHAT THE???????) The most beautiful gardens and so peaceful quiet right in the heart of bustling busy noisy Shanghai, with it's 27 million people. Who are all jostling for their place in the world in their own way (they talk loud they toooot constantly they push and shove they cut in front of you) It makes an exciting noisy enviroment, so different from any other city. A great place to visit. But so exhausting.
Wednesday 1st August HAPPY BIRTHDAy to all the Horses OH AND MICHAEL!!!!!!!!! On to the hopon/hop off bus ( Self explanitary) Then a real treat. Leying came for a coffee They drove all the way from her home (2hours) came for a coffee Here for 1 1/2 hours we drank coffee and chatted about families and her time in Australia took photo's hugged and then they were off again. It was lovely to think that she wanted to come as it is 12years since she came to stay at home, but lovely to think that as a result of her Aussie visit she regained a friendship with an old school friend whom I was able to contact for her when she was at home with me. She told me I has not changed I BELIEVED HER .
A quiet last day in Shanghai, wandering the shopping centre looking for last minute gifts for family at home. Fortunately our luggage is not overloaded. A limo picked us up at the hotel and delivered us to the airport for our flight to Sydney. The sad realisation that our holiday is drawing to a close.
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