Saturday, 20 April 2013

From China (12) - Busy day in Beijing

Friday 19 April - Beijing
Today was the last full day of our tour, and there was not let-up in the pace!   It started with a pre-7 am departure to beat the worst of the Beijing traffic to get to the Great Wall, followed by a "tour" of a jade factory (= buying opportunity), a viewing of the Olympic stadiums, time at the Summer Palace, an absolutely stunning acrobatic performance and then (after a short break) the final dinner of the tour.

I could comment in detail on each of these, but for the time being, I'll content myself with only the most important comments (with a view to filling in some detail at a later stage, along with some images).

Great wall
The Great Wall was more-or-less as I expected it, save that the location we were taken to wasn't actually part of the main wall at all!    It was the fortified village at the Juyong Guan pass.   But it had all the characteristics of the rest of the wall:   some extremely steep steps, ramparts, various watchtowers and so so.   And the village itself was quite interesting, too.

I don't propose to comment on the Jade factory, and although it was interesting to see the "Birds Next" Olympic Stadium and the "Cube" swimming stadium, there's not a lot to say about them.

Summer Palace

The Summer Palace surprised me, both as to its extent and number of pavilions, temples, courtyards, bridges etc.     To complete the picture, there were also a lot of shops and a vast number of tourists.

Summer Palace

The acrobatic show must be one of the highlights of the entire tour.  The skill and agility of all the performers was amazing, but most incredible of all was the final act: first one, then one by one additional, motor cyclists driving around in circles and loops INSIDE a mesh sphere just a few metres in diameter (significantly less than the width of the stage)   At the end, there were FIVE motor cycles!   We couldn't believe our eyes when the first motor cyclist entered, and the audience was gasping as each additional one did so.   It has to have been one of the most impressive acts I have ever seen.

The final dinner of the tour was a pleasant occasion:   photos were taken, email addresses exchanged, drinks drunk ....   it goes to show how a group of 17 people can bond in a relatively short space of time, each to go their own way in the next day or so.

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