That’s been the best day of the tour so far…
It’s hard not to get complacent seeing all these incredible places! I’ve climbed more mountains this year, visited more temples and photographed more spectacular views than I have in my whole life.
There have been so many times over the past 12 months that I’ve said, “That’s been the best day of the tour so far.” Aysgarth Falls in Yorkshire, Pulau Ubin in Singapore, Sibu Island in Malaysia, Bintan in Indonesia, Lamma Island in Hong Kong, Taal Volcano in The Philippines, The Yellow Mountains in Huangshan… each one sticks out in my mind as being the best day of the tour.
…The Great Wall was THE best day of the tour (so far.)
A group of us decided to go on the Great Wall together and we chose to go with Wild Great Wall Adventures, a Tour Guide company recommended to us, (see link below.)
We were picked up from our hotel at 7.30am. It took a couple of hours to get to the start of our journey at Xizhazi village and our guide, May, was great and gave us a quick Chinese history lesson on the way. Once we arrived at Xizhazi Village we began our hike uphill to reach the ruined tower, Zhengbeikou.
This part of the hike was the hardest as it’s consistently uphill for about 30-45 minutes but the views of Jiankou were beautiful and once we reached the ruined tower which leads you to an old part of the wall I felt so humbled and amazed. I just couldn’t believe that I was there, on the Great Wall of China!
After passing through a few towers along the wall, we reached Ox Horn Edge, (as it looks like an ox’ horn in shape… go figure.) I absolutely loved this path, I found it both challenging and hilarious. It is so steep (to put it mildly) and extremely challenging. I certainly wouldn’t recommend climbing up here in a £15 pair of market trainers 🙈… make sure you are wearing some really grippy shoes… slippy isn’t the word!
If you don’t fancy climbing up this steep path, there is a shortcut detour which takes about 10 minutes that will lead you around to Jiankou again. Both paths lead to the same place but if you are in a large group and some of you want to take the shortcut then you will have to wait for your team a short while until they slide down from the Ox Horn. (Perhaps a good opportunity for a snack. 😋)
After what I can only describe as “bum shuffling” down the Great Wall of China, which by the way made me laugh so hard it made me weak (a cheap ab workout!) We rendezvoused with the rest of our team who were waiting for us and we all continued our walk to the fully restored Mutianyu.
With the exception of all the stairs, I found this part of the hike much more straight forward (so to speak!) The Wall here is fully restored and although in parts steep, the ground is even and it’s a little easier on those pins! There are many more people here too, on the old section of the wall we saw maybe only five other tourists. We chose a particularly hot day and the crowds were minimal, our tour guide said we were quite lucky as it can get very busy- especially in peak times.
We walked about 10k of the Great Wall from tower 38 to tower 6 where we took a toboggan (oh yes!) back down to the bottom. You can take the cable car from tower 14 or the chair lift from tower 6 but I highly recommend the toboggan. You are in control of the speed and the brake so you can go as fast or as slow as you wish. It’s absolutely hilarious! I loved it…
Our little excursion gave us all a great appetite and our guide took us to a local restaurant where we had some delicious food and a well deserved beer before heading back to our hotel. I cannot praise this wonderful day out highly enough, organised, informative and a day I will never forget. A big thank you to our team leader Wendy Lee Purdy for organising this incredible trip.
- Wild Great Wall Tours
- I recommend: Decent (good grip) walking shoes, plenty of water, snacks, a hat, sun glasses, long trousers/leggings, sun screen, bug spray.
- The cost is dependent on the amount of people in your party (see website) There were 11 of us and for everything- including travel and food, it cost us 470RBM each. (£54)
Duck De Chine
Back in the UK we have a version of Peking Duck that we call crispy duck pancakes, always a favourite with my family when we go to a Chinese cuisine restaurant.
I found Duck de Chine recommended in my trusty Lonely Planet guide as one of the best places in Beijing for Peking duck.
The restaurant is tricky to find, in an old converted building by the name of 1947, found in the Sanlitun area of Beijing. It’s also a little pricier than other traditional restaurants, but it was hands down the best Peking duck I have ever tasted. So succulent, sweet and crispy- without being fatty at all.
A few bottles of wine later and some very full bellies, we all concluded that Duck De Chine certainly lived up to the recommendation… good old Lonely Planet.
*True story (don’t get me wrong, I like Lasagne… but not as much as Roast.)
- Duck De Chine
- Open Daily: Lunch: 11am-2.30pm Dinner: 5.30-10.30pm
- 1949 – The Hidden City, Courtyard 4, Gongti Beilu (opposite the south gate of Pacific Century Place Mall)
Calligraphy was the means by which scholars could mark their thoughts and teachings for immortality, and as such, represent some of the more precious treasures that can be found from ancient China.
The lovely Sara Morley had a birthday at the beginning of this week and so to celebrate we decided to go for a bit of culture and learn something new. Chinese Calligraphy.
I find calligraphy so fascinating, it’s so beautiful and impressive. I am not a ‘natural’ artist (to say the least!) so I knew it would be a bit of a challenge for me. I was so surprised at how relaxing it was, I found it very therapeutic.
We booked an hour and a half hour lesson with a lovely gentleman, Richard Le from Hutong Calligraphy (see link below.) He was a great teacher -very patient and funny. After going through all the basics, we learnt how to write “Happy” – it took me a fair few attempts of course!
I enjoyed the class so much that I bought some of Richards calligraphy artwork that he personalised for me as a momento of the lesson.
- Hutong Calligraphy
- Class schedule: Daily at 10:00am-11:30am , 13:00-14:30, 15:00-16:30, 18:00-19:30pm
- 1.5hours class: 330RMB (£36)
Our first two weeks in Beijing have certainly been interesting and I am so glad to have experienced some of the local traditions and customs. I tried some Shāomài dumplings at Dūyīchù on Qianmen Dajie, I think I still prefer Xiao Long Bau- the soup dumplings that I am so obsessed with that I haven’t really blogged about yet… oh but I will!
I still have a lot more to see and try here in Beijing before we move on to Guangzhou in two weeks time, so do let me know if you have any recommendations… and I hope you enjoyed mine!
Until next time,
Love Emily xxx