It was a very short night because we had to get up at 5 to join a bus tour to the Great Wall. On a first stop, we had a nice breakfast with steamed dumplings and hot soy milk soup. Then we went on and after an one-hour drive, we arrived at an very steep section of the Wall.
We had about two hours here so we started climbing the steep and irregular steps. Unfortunately, the sky was not very clear today, so the Wall on the other side of the valley was hard to see.
We climbed almost to the top of the first hill, which took about 50 minutes and a lot of sweat.
And this was the view close to the top:
This was a good start but unfortunately, it turned out that we fell into a tourist trap. This trip was booked via a travel agency but apparently, you are never save of these things..
So we had to visit a jade store and a shopping mall for food. The last one was not so bad because we could try some things here (without buying). These stops were annoying but interesting to see that this is common practice on the whole planet apparently (this was a Chinese only tour, BTW. I was the only foreigner with Meng as translator).
Then we had a simple lunch and went on to the Ming Tombs. Ok, we didn’t see the tombs actually only the sculptures on the old pathway. So this was not so much after all. Then back to the bus and to some station for registration, which turned out to be a ridiculous reason to bring us to another jade store. This was what we call a Kaffeefahrt (“promotional trip” in English?) in German.. We spent quite a while there to listen to jade stuff, which I didn’t care (or understand) about so I left after a while and had time to read my book. That was a foreigner’s advantage, nobody thought it was rude of me (for the Chinese, you needed a reason to leave apparently) and the staff was polite actually (to me at least). We managed to leave a bit early and were happy to be back in the center. We left the bus at the bird’s nest stadium and Water Cube from the Olympics but didn’t have the energy to go in. We had a walk to the next subway station and saw it from afar instead.
Back at the station close to our hotel, we found a Chinese BBQ restaurant, which turned out to be really good. It was great that you could order many different dishes in small amounts so that we could try half of the menu. The biggest dish was a hot pot:
You boil it yourself on the table and it was delicious. Besides of the different meats, grilled and served on spits, the only “weird” food today was a broad grilled tendon (or connective tissue?). Pretty chewy but not as strange as it sounds. And they even had their own – very good – home-brewed beer.
This was a good end to a day which was not entirely great. But hey, I saw the Great Wall and had two really good meals. And how many European can say that they experienced an authentic Chinese Kaffeefahrt? And lesson learned, no more organized trips. Public transport is all you need.