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Beijing Fail

I have no pictures for the Forbidden City or Summer palace uploaded yet. Must have forgotten them... I'll insert them later.

sunny 29 °C

Well today was a bit of a Beijing tour fail. We walked for ages to find a hostel to book a secret Great Wall trip, only to be told the cost would be a whopper 600 yen each! The hostel had previously told us it would be 300 which was still too much. Boobs.
We did however have our own mini tour of the hutongs, which were awesome. And we saw lots of Chinese people out walking, cooking, playing games and eating etc.

After this we finally arrived at Tiananmen gate and square.

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Chairman Mao's mausoleum was closed so we mosied around the square and then onto the Forbidden Palace, only to realise this was closed on Monday afternoons. Doh!

We got some dumplings (after leaving the first eatery due to the all too funny English descriptions)

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and decided to continue on and attempt to see the Summer Palace. It was nearly 5 pm by the time we got to the palace and I was a bit frustrated at our lack of seeing any of the sights so far, conscious of our time schedule. Luckily the Summer Palace saved the day! The SP was a playground for the Ming and Qing dynasties when they wanted to escape the heat of Beijing city. 3/4 of it was made up of a lovely lake with lots of boats, peddle boats, bridges, little houses and obviously lush green trees and bushes. There wasn't an actual palace building, more like lots of gorgeous old buildings in the grounds which were used as dining halls, courts and temples back in the day. We trotted up the hill and had a good look around and a pleasant stroll. At one point we lost each other. (this was to become a regular thing).
We sat on the bank of the Lake and I had some of those wonderful cheapo noodles everyone is always eating. They were nom considering!! (I had wanted to try them for ages, but I figure ill be living on them when Chelle leaves.)

On the way back to our hostel, a young Chinese man in VERY tight jeans stood right in front of me on the subway. We were sniggering away like school girls but these jeans were rediculously tight.
Chelle asked me: "Have you ever gone out with a Chinese man? "
I said: "I feel like I'm going out with one right now"
Anddddd we cracked up again.

Back at the gaff we met Fiona who had done the Mutinya part of the Great Wall. It was pretty misty for them but the pics looked really eerie and cool.
We began to plan our trip to the wall. We wanted to do it ourselves so decided that we would get up really early and get a bus to the tiny village of Zhang Dao Koe, about 60km outside of Beijing. ZDK had a large area of unrestored wall not open to the public and a bit of restored wall as well. We had asked a young girl from our hostel to ring a guesthouse for us to book us a room for the night, as no one in the village speaks English apparently. So we planned to get up early, get there by 12 then get out, see the wall and hopefully have a sunset on it, and sunrise the next morning.

When we woke the next day however, we'd slept through the alarm and it was raining. So I proposed we try the Forbidden City again for the morning and then bus it to the village later on, as tomorrow was supposed to be a scorcher and we'd see a lot more of the wall in ze sunshine! So that we did. We packed an overnight bag and headed off to see the FC, which was quite cool. The buildings in the city were quite impressive, really gorgeous colours and lovely courtyards. The place was packed with tourists though and after a while all the buildings looked the same.

We had a strong coffee and decided to hit the road to our wall adventure. We managed to get the first bus to Huairou no problemo, (Michelle had to sit beside a crying baby with a split in his pants - wahahahahaha - I lolled from the back of the bus - let's see how much she likes babies now!! ;) )

Anywho we couldn't find the second bus to take us to ZDK as the bus driver dumped us out at the wrong stop for the directions we were given. hmmm. The bus we needed had no number on it, just the Chinese characters. We walked up and down the street to various bus stops and waited for a while for a non-numbered bus to show before we decided to get a taxi. We got this jolly bowl-haired taxi dude who chuckled a lot, to bring us to Zhang Dao Koe for an extorniate price. His Hiace van bumped and jostled us around all the way, and he had to stop and ask directions 3 times. Each time he got back into the van, he chuckled and said ''more money, more money, too far''. It was an absolutely beautiful day and we could see mountains and blue sky out the window for the first time in a week. Bliss. We'd a great laugh bouncin around in the back seat.

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We got to ZDK village and paid Chuckles and went in search of our guesthouse. We spent yonks looking for it but eventually found it and our lovely hostess with the mostess, who whipped us up a dinner of vegetables, rice and eggs - thanks to Michelle's fantastic miming and Chinglish. :D
It was heavenly. We sat outside on the balcony with a stunning view of the nearby mountains and a part of the wall. EXCITEMENT ABOUNDED! (Is that even a sentence?)
For some reason however, there was a dead rat hanging from the balcony - maybe to scare away other rats?? I didn't tell Michelle until after she finished her dinner. he he he.

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Our room was pretty basic with no water and the beds were like rocks, but the scenery was amazing, the food was delicious, the weather was AMAZING, there was a river nearby with a chorus of frogs ribbetting away, there was a tiny dog who hung round us and basically everything was hunky dory. Good Times.

Posted by squeakylee 23:35 Archived in China Tagged city beijing forbidden dao zhang koe Comments (0)

The Cruise

I'm on a boat... I'm on a mothaf*(kin boat

sunny 33 °C

So during the night we bobbed along and arrived at White King City. After a magnificent buffet breakfast we hopped on a bus - 4 westerners in a sea of Chinese tourists and off we went to White King City. Our bus once again had a small tour leader that shouted Chinese into a bad microphone alllll the way to WKC and everywhere we went basically. (I might have mentioned this before. ;) ) It was hilarious. And deafening. When we got off the bus, there was not only 1 of these little leaders but loads of them - everywhere - shouting away with their little flags and groups of Chinese tourists - all with their matching hats on. It was pretty funny actually. Hard to get a bit of peace and quiet to enjoy the sights and scenery though.

The White King City itself was alright. I think the 4 of us would have preferred a lie in though. :D We moved on anywho and had a look around. We had a nice view of a gorge, climbed some steps, saw some angry looking Chinese Chief/Warrior statues, then went back to the big boat.

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Our main cruiser rocked off through the beautiful gorges before a big lunch......
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....and disembarkment back to a smaller boat to do the 3 Lesser Gorges. This boat trip was SUBLIME. The scenery was spectacular.
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The boat itself wasn't that great, and they charged you if you wanted to sit down on a seat on the deck. As a matter of principle (or stubborness), no one sat on the deck! Everyone ended up standing around on the deck for hours but it was beautiful.

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Great big chunks of rock towered above us on either side as we sailed down the beautiful pea-greeny river. After a few hours, we changed boats to a smaller wooden boat with a retractable roof and a singing Captain, whose voice echoed through the gorges. It was Mighty Fine!

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The lads had retired to their rooms and Mich had gotten sunburnt so had gone to smother herself in moisturiser. Later there seemed to be some racket coming from the ''ballroom''. Evan knocked on our room door to inform us he would be singing The Backstreet Boys in Karaoke in 10 minutes. I showered and went to witness the warbling madness, that was but a stones throw away from our room. Michelle was snoozing and I didn't want to wake her up. I toddled along to the scene of many crimes and found Neil just about to go 'onstage' to sing Santana. He was very good, and Evan followed soon after to rapturous applause from the western Laydeeze, and the Chinese lads who were drinking and singing to beat the band.

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The lads then did a duet and every second song was another warbled Chinese ballad from the drunken Chinese lads. I got up and sang what I thought was going to be ''Stand by Me''. Turned out to be a magnificent Chinese pop version of Stand by me, with a video of this girl getting her make up and hair done throughout. :D I had to do a lot of adlibbing and a bit of 'clap your hands everybody' style shit to fill in the gaps with no words. The two lads came over and stood by me for a bit of the song which was hilarious. We were drinking some mad fishy smelling alcohol that Evan had purchased, which we mixed with Sprite to give it quite the delicate flavour! ;) Finally Michelle rose from the dead and the 4 of us moved to the top deck where we all drank more shite and sang and joked. The lads even did a bit of beatboxing. Well I never.

Day 3 consisted of getting up at 6 am and going to see some dam project that no one had any interest in.
We did get an English guide for this one - i.e Mandy & our driver Mr. Chan. So at least we got a few facts for this bus trip. Think this was cos there were two G Adventure tour groups on our bus so maybe they had paid for an English guide and we just got ''lucky''??
The dam was impressive as far as man made schemes go but after seeing such natural beauty at the gorges, it seemed a bit meh. We bid adieu to Mandy & Mr Chan and the 4 of us bundled into cabs to get to Yichang train station. We were aiming to get the 1.30 train to ZhangJiaJie - aka AVATAR LAND - a magical place full of supremely tall sandstone and quartz stacks. Supposedly Pandora in the movie Avatar was based on this place, although James Cameron denies it was and maintains it was somewhere else in Hubei. But who cares! Let's name it Avatar Land anyways :D Tough nuggies Mr. Cameron. There's even been talk of naming one of the stacks Halleluyah Mountain.

Anywho at the train station, the queues were milllles long and there was no way we would get the train on time. So Michelle decided to play the dumb foreigner and went up to the wrong desk to ask for 4 tickets and it worked. HUZZAH. We headed off to ZhangJiaJie full of excitement!

Posted by squeakylee 01:15 Archived in China Tagged boat city cruise king white karaoke microphone Comments (0)

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