Beijing Shenanigans #3

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Today as we descended through the hotel lobby we were greeted by our tour guide Sarah and her driver Mr. Zheng who provided us with water and whisked us away in a beautifully air conditioned car.

As the vehicle danced and dodged its way through Beijing traffic I watched as the hutongs and skyscrapers disappeared behind us as open country beckoned on the horizon…

About 70km north east of the city nestled in the mountains is the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China (known to locals as ChangCheng or the long wall). Tall stones of brick shaped to the terrain of the mountains snakes it’s way through the vast greenery. It was interesting to note that the water drainage only flows out onto the Beijing side of the wall so the villagers below can utilise the water. The fortresses themselves were dark and on so heavenly cool especially after a sweltering hike up the endless stairs. We’d got the chair lift to fortress six and made our way west with the idea of reaching 14… I accepted defeat just after fortress 9… I think my dreams of being a Chinese warrior are over! We finished our walling adventure with a toboggan ride down…. All I remember are valleys of green and burning fingers as my hand clasped the overheated plastic brake handle… But the experience itself was amazing!

From the Wall we drove an hour to the north east of the city to the Summer Palace. Where we learn it is the empress dowager who really had the power. As Sarah told us the stories and history it reminded me of one of my favourite lines “the man may be the head of the house but the woman is the neck”…

Lots of dragon statues (representation of power) and Phoenix (symbol of the empress). In part of the Summer Palace the Phoenix statue stands centrally where the dragon is put to the side. Perhaps symbolically representing what I mentioned before.

As we strolled alongside the lake and long corridor of the gardens I imagined this almost porcelain empress with her summer umbrella floating beneath the pavilion. In reality it was over flowing with tourists and visitors keen to take snapshots of lotus leaves and dragon boats. Yes, I was one of them.

Weary we ended our day at our new favourite Beijing resteraunt: The Sunshine Kitchen (tang cheng xiao chu)… Broccoli & Cauliflower Curry was the hit of the night, alongside some scrumptious s&s pork and tantalising dumplings… Even writing now makes me yearn for more… Mmmm…

Next: Beijing Zoo, Temple of Heaven & Lama Temple

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