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No Photos 9th Sep 2017 - 10th Sep 2017
Day 1&2 Departure & Arrival

Day 1 & 2 Departure and arrival

So i had to get up at half past 6 - half an hour before i went to bed and had much to do, still before i could vacate my abode airport bound. 

Having completed my packing, i brought my suitcase to the top of the stairs and then watched as it fell top to bottom, with the extendable handle, used to navigate the wheel function of my suitcase, still in my hand. D'oh! Eventually leaving at just after 7 i drove into town to pickup the A38M to get onto the M6 to manchester.

En-route i had a momentary panic that i'd removed my passport from its holder and, did i put it back in my bag, i hoped so but my bag was in the boot and there was little time to stop to check, so i drove swiftly onwards in hope that it was in there..  after a very easy journey to manchester i finally arrived and went to the designated car park and decanted my luggage and in doing so finding my passport as and where it should be, releived I awaitied the courtesey bus to take me to Terminal 2. 

I got dropped off by the coach driver and made my way inside the terminal building where we'd arranged to meet the tour leader and my fellow trainee passengers, that is, they're doing martial arts training, they're not training how to become a passenger just to be clear. 

We met, checked in and made our way thru security and passport control etc to arrive in the duty free, where we bought some last minute essentials and we decided as a group to have some breafast.

After id eaten my Eggs Benedict, #Yum we then joined the queue for the airplane and duly (and eventually) boarded the direct flight to Beijing, China with Hinuan airlines, a relatively new airline. 

The airline was pretty good, no complaints at all, food was very good, there were ipad sized tv screens in the back of the seats and after 10 hours 23 minutes we landed at 06:10 (am) Local time.

LeeMing who was meeting us in Beijing arrived to escort us to our hotel, which was a 5* located about 20 minutes both from the airport and from the city centre it turned out, however when i say the city centre, in Beijing you can travel for an hour in any direction and still be within the capital city. 

When we arrived it was very overcast and gloomy. We later learned this was actually due to pollution as Beijing suffers a lot particularly in the summer, from pollution. 

Upon arrival we had a small wait because we werent able to check in to our rooms as they were being cleaned the previous customers having only recently checked out.

We went for a short walk, along a canal, thru the park where there were local people doing various forms of martial arts, namely Tai chi, chi gong and an entire square of elderly who looked to be doing line dancing. 

All dancing the same moves to music walking around the square one by one completing the same movements, it wasnt actually line dancing but thats the nearest thing that i can relate it to. It actually looked a bit like the macarena.

After a little while we returned back to the hotel where we were issued our room keys. We went to our room and were duly impressed. Having decided who was going to share a room with whom. 

By now the fatigue was massively kicking in as we'd had bearly any sleep on the plane and id been awake extra early therefore sleep breifly ensued.

We had arranged to meet for breakfast/lunch around 12 (local time) 

So we arrived at the hotels restaurant where we met the rest of the groups, bearing in mind we 5, had flown from Manchester, there were a few people who had already arrived the previous night from London and a few others from Edinburgh who arrived after us (despite their setting off before us, they flew via Dubai and so had 2 planes to catch with a small wait in Dubai). #Haha

We all assembled around a big round table with a massive lazy susan in the middle and very pretty ladies arrived neatly dressed all addorned with a few different dishes which were placed in the centre for us all to pick at. I wont bore you with the details, suffice to say there was a beef dish, a pork dish, a tofu dish, a noodle dish, rice dish, a few mixed veg dishes and it seems i have bored you with the detail.

Following brunch we discussed what was happening later in the day and a breif overview of the entire itinerary  whilst we were in China.

So straight after brunch we showered freshened up and after only 20 minutes we set off for the forbidden city, once home to the Emporer of various dynasties, which is literally opposite Tian an men square. 

Obviously i had already visited these sites when i came in 2010 however due to the MINUS THIRTY DEGREE TEMPERATURES we were not so inclined to spend much time sight seeing, therefore, and as by now the pollution had cleared up following a short rain storm, the sun had began to shine down and i have to say at this juncture the humidity was rather stiffling however the sun was very welcome as we queued to get inside the palace i had flashbacks of shivering as the icy coldness almost froze me in time and so to stand there and feel too hot was very nice indeed as daft as that sounds.

When we were there in 2010 i think we mustve visited when the palace was actually closed as we weren't able to walk beyond a certain point however this time we had access to all areas.

So as we entered the first gate we entered into an impressive courtyard where the emporer and emporess wouldve once resided. Now i thought that that was it, however beyond this building there was another courtyard, and another palace type of building, this courtyard was bigger and more impressive than the last and thru the door there was another courtyard, and yet another palace and then another and another and another, each time we entered thru the gate below what i assumed was the palace there was a bigger, more impressive courtyard beyond, a bit like the opposite of a russian doll, instead of getting smaller and smaller they just grew and grew in both size stature and intricacy..

After we had done everything there was to do including the palace gardens we split off into two groups and half of us went back to the hotel to get some sleep and half went to the 'silk market'. 

I realise i probably havent done much justice to the description of the palace but actually, the pictures, once uploaded will speak for themselves.

The silk market isnt so much a market as one would imagine, moreso a multi-storey shopping complex selling everything from toys to bags, to furs, to shoes and trainers, silk suits, dresses, leather goods, bedding, kitchen utensils, artwork, electronics, towells, suitcases, foreign exchange, food items, jade ornaments along with many many other things which escape my limited memory at this point due to the amount of experience which had been crammed into such a short space of time, suffice to say, it was a bit like stepping inside of Ebay, its probably where most of the goods you order from Ebay come from.

Due to the fact i had broken my suit case i decided to go and have a look to see what they had in the way of suitcases.

The suitcases were big and small thin and fat with or without wheels, made of plastic or material, or a mixture of both, anyway there were many to choose from. 

Now, you cannot it seems, walk into a store selling anything within the silk market and not begin a negotiation to buy something, so bartering quickly ensued. I didnt actually want to buy a suit case at this juncture and i was mostly having a look to see whether one could be purchased, i didnt particularly want to buy anything, however i did need a day bag. 

My hand luggage bag contained everything i had brought over from the U.k and i didnt want to pack and unpack it on a daily basis, therefore i began to enquire as to the cost of the back-pack type bags and two sales people quickly began to haggle with me, i quite like haggling and so even tho i wasnt convinced the chinese version of a samsonite bag was what i wanted to buy, it certainly did match the description i was looking for, anyway i eventually usk'd em down to ¥160 but i was only prepared to pay ¥150 tho and they wouldnt budge the extra ¥10. So i walked away, 

On the ground floor where i stood, there were many many suitcase / bag vendors, so as i walked away they shouted down to me to say they would let me have it for ¥150 ! 

150 Yuen by the way is the equivalent to about £15.00 give or take subject to the exchange rate - at the silk market we were actually getting ¥8.05 : £1.00 so its actually slightly more than £15 but for ease of calculations i just call it 10:1 and then just add a bit.

Anyway, as i wandered off i discovered another place in the corner that was selling an Actual samsonite back-pack, which had wheels and a handle and so as i had looked with my hands more than my eyes the negotiations began and i quickly got him down to ¥150 and this guy was way less aggressive and was interested in our lovely British Pound alas i had none on me as id recently changed a chunk of GBP £'s sterling into CNY ¥'s Chinese Yuen. 

I walked away pretty smugly having actually paid only ¥140 and did a whole 'pretty woman' thing and walked past the previous vendor with a big smile on my face having paid less than they were prepared to go to for with my brand new samsonite bag which i had paid less than a 'copy' of the same thing. "Big mistake.. big mistake, massive - huge" i thought to myself! 

Once we'd all shopped a bit by now the fatigue had hit us all, so we all decided it was time for bed, and so we drew a close on the first very long and exhausting day of our China trip. 

Before going to bed, we breifly discussed what was happening tomorrow, which was going to be another long and fun-packed day it would seem therefore it was important to get a good nights sleep, as we were going to have to be up for 7am.

We all retired to bed. (Not together i hasten to add) 

Next: Day 3 Great Wall of China & Summer Palace
Previous: Day 7 - Departure Day #Booo

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