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Given the amount planned, we had a relatively early start, leaving the hotel at 8am sharp. Prior to leaving, we ate, of course. The breakfast, like the hotel was amazing. I had the first good bread in 7 months. The day was quite foggy to start off with, so the guide said we should go to the 'Jade factory' first. We had a little tour, where we learned a few things that I've now forgotten, then spent quite a while in the gift shop.
After the jade place, we went to the Ming tombs. It was pretty empty, being Lunar new years day - so empty it felt like a tomb (boom boom). Here we can see 5 ticket attendants, and one security guard/policeman/soldier (we never really worked out what they were, but there were more of them than you could shake a stick at - if you felt daring enough to shake a stick at the communists).
We visited one large hall, containing a statue of the emperor entombed somewhere nearby. The cabinets around the edges of the hall were filled with artifacts, some real, some replica.
From there we traveled on to the great wall. What can I say about the great wall? It was pretty great, but I feel 'The Massive Wall', or 'The So Big You Won't Believe It Wall' would have been more appropriate. The part we visited seemed to be one end of part of the wall. It looped around, and took about 90 minutes to walk the up to the peak and back down. It seemed to be a fortified gate in a pass, surrounded by wall, and joined to the main wall.
We then moved on to drink tea from very very small cups at an establishment called 'Dr Tea'. It was good to taste different kinds of tea, but like so many of the other things we visited it was a small amount of culture intended to bring us into the gift shop.
We then had another meal before visiting the circus show. Let me say a little about the food we had there. Served in many communal dishes, it was generally all 'chopstick food', i.e. bite-sized morsels handy for picking up with two sticks. Many of the tables had large rotating glass dish in the centre on which the dishes were placed. This rotating of dishes past people before they could take food was one of the many amusements that we enjoyed as a group. The meal below is the one we had after the tea, and it's Beijing Duck, which is kind of like fajitas.
The Circus Show (a stage show of acrobatics and such) was incredible. I've never enjoyed a show so much since I was a child. The quality was amazing. The highlights were the Hula Girls and a puppet show, which consisted of a turtle and a stork. The stork flew and walked in an incredibly lifelike manner. The plot involved the stork getting angry at the turtle and pecking him on the head. The kids in the audience were in stitches. They got a few belly laughs from me too.
|The Chinese Circus Show|
After the show, back to the hotel, where I got a pretty early night given that we were intending on getting up even earlier (leaving 7:30) the next day.