Thursday, November 27

China, Day Four: The Great Wall

Today was by far the highlight of my time here to date. The main reason for this was The Great Wall of China - but let me start at the beginning.

After a drive by of the Bird's Nest and Water Cube, our first stop was at a jade factory. You should know the drill by now; a fantastic briefing and introduction later spoiled by guilt tripping and pushy selling, none of the salespeople realising that we had no interest other than a passing one in the precious stone.

With the morning guff out of the way, we headed to The Wall. Of course since the wall itself is made up of various different ones, this was actually a small taster of much larger construction; nevertheless it was full of excitement and atmosphere for me. It was also a pretty strenuous activity; it took around two hours to climb the uneven brick and stone stairs to the top most point of this particular section and then return back to ground level again. The surrounding views as well as those of the wall itself were amazing, but the actual walking of the wall was even better.

After lunch we were taken to a cloisonne factory. Yawn.

Our next stop was Tienanmen Square. This was more awesome than I had expected just a city square to be - if only for its amazingly cleanliness both in terms of state and lines of design. Despite being under 10 degrees, I wished I had the time to just sit there with a book, reading and people-watching. Still, judging by the heavy police presence, I'm not sure exactly how feasible that would've been anyway!

Our final stop before dinner and home was at a silk factory. But what was this? We spent a whopping two hours shopping and actually buying things! Gasp! After finally finding something we actually had an interest in, we were happy enough to spend the time (and money!) probably being ripped off on gifts and things for ourselves.

But it was The Wall that totally made today for me. With our first leg in Beijing almost up, I'd even go as far as saying that it converted our time here from just merely satisfactory to actually really good.

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