Great Wall Day to Mutianyu. We declined to join an expensive tour and took a bus to Houarai, then hired a mini-van.
It was a cold and misty/smoggy day with little sign of the sun and the remnants of last weeks' snow still lying in large patches on the hillsides. We took the ski lift rather than the very steep and long walk as we were a little short on time..
The Wall was just as we imagined and surprise, surprise, like the photos we have all seen of it. What a thrill to walk a section of it and how privileged we are to be able to do so.
The Wall follows the mountain ridges and cost thousands of lives in the building of it. There are reputed to be human skeletons buried in the wall thicknesses of labourers who fell in and died there.
It was built as a defence against the invading Mongols, but never really served its purpose. It is reputedly over 2000 years old and is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, so another “must see, must do” item ticked off!
Our minivan driver was waiting for us on our return to the base at Mutianyu and then tried to scam us by saying agreed price was only one way, the oldest trick in the book. We did not fall for that so he ended up receiving no tip and was not a happy chap!
For our last night we were intending to splash out on an expensive meal, but fortuitously found the Night Food Market near our hotel, so we ended up inspecting the many stalls, tasting various delicacies on offer until we were full. The amounts and varieties of foods were astounding, and of course the crowds were there in force.
There were snakes, silkworms, seahorses, scorpions, starfish and lobsters for the exotic taste, but we preferred the more normal Peking duck, beef, lamb, chicken, prawns, squid, noodles and dumplings. Topped off by two helpings of the biggest and best strawberries we have tastes for years. A great way to end a fabulous Chinese holiday.
Then came the long 24 hour train trip back to Hong Kong in a “sleeper” train. China has a crazy system of three tiers of bunks that do not fold away and one is expected to sit/lie on one's alotted bunk for the full 24 hours! We had the top ones................As you can imagine this is virtually impossible but we were lucky enough to be able to change (for a small fee) to an empty compartment which meant we could use the lower bunks for sleeping and sitting. Not very comfortable but better than sitting/lying on the top bunk all day and night.
Back in Hong Kong we faced a big disappointment in that the weather had been so bad for two weeks that the new windows had not been fitted. This is a blow which means that our hoped for departure will now be delayed again. Oh well, Hong Kong is wonderful and we have made good friends here.
It is still grey and foggy and damp. Horrible weather which lasts for months we are told.