Thinking of travel.

Monday, December 10, 2012

China 2012 
Our First day on the Tour 

Day one of our tour started with a great breakfast and a friendly meet and greet of all the travelers.   We were thirteen in all.  Wendy and her daughter also joined the group.  Wendy was our tour organizer.  She was responsible for arranging our transportation, hotels and meals.  She also arranged specialized guides for us at most of the interesting places that we were to visit.  

 During breakfast, Wendy explained that we had chosen one of the busiest times to take a tour around China.  She explained that the upcoming week was a combination of the Chinese National Holiday and attached to that was what is called the Golden Week.  It is the Moon Festival.  A few years ago the Moon festival was a quiet holiday where people celebrated with friends and family, but without the travelling that one would see during the Spring Festival. However, this year there were more Chinese with cars. Life is good and many people were given time off to enjoy the festivities. As such we were told to anticipate traffic jams. In addition, we were informed that the Government gave a free pass to all the toll roads throughout China.  We were in for a real surprise.
We also decided that, In order to ensure, we covered our tour objectives, we would travel to visit the Ming Tombs and to see the Great Wall on the first day vice visiting the Forbidden City.  We would make the Forbidden City visit on the second day. It was felt that there would be less traffic, which was the case.  Nevertheless, there was quite a bit of traffic, but is was not as bad as we thought it would be.
The Ming Tombs were very quiet and very beautiful.  They were more like a garden with beautiful Ming style architecture.  The grounds were well kept and very  beautiful.   The architecture was wonderful.  We took our time and enjoyed the scenery along with the decor of the buildings. 
The arched entrance to the main building.
Photo by Anna Tsontakis-Mally
The colours, forms and perspectives were splendid.
Photo by:  Greg Tsontakis-Mally
A statue of Yongle, the Ming Emperor at this tomb
Photo by: Greg Tsontakis-Mally.
We would later visit a factory where similar roof tiles were made.
Photp by Greg  Tsontakis-Mally
Walk ways were more that just for walking on.  They were art.
Photo by:  Greg Tsontakis-Mally

After our walk about in the Tombs we climbed aboard the bus to go for lunch.   Getting into the dining room was a real experience.   The specialised guide worked with the China International Travel Service (CITS.)   Traveling with these guides are inexpensive because they must bring any travel group under their care to at least one factory outlet per day.   Our lunch would require us to pass through the Cloisonne factory that was attached to the restaurant.   We got to see the process as well as to meet the artisans creating the work.  In addition were were invited to purchase directly from the factory at a discounted price.  (wink, wink, finger to the nose.)   The workers must have thought we were starving because we did not stay long.  We wanted to eat.
An artisan creating a cloisonne vase.
Photo by: Greg Tsontakis-Mally
 The restaurant meal was good.  We did not take too much time to eat because we wanted to move on to the Great Wall.    About five minutes after we left the restaurant we found ourselves in a real slow moving traffic column all going to the same destination.  The Great Wall.   We were hoping to be able to visit section of the wall called Simatai but were informed that this part of the wall was under renovation.  The suggestion to go to Badaling was discouraged, due to the traffic and that Badaling was one of the heaviest tourists places along the wall so we would be faced with hoards of people.  We went to an off shoot of the Great Wall.  It was a quiet place that let us use our muscles to try to climb to the top tower on this segment.

This part of the wall was very quiet.  A beautiful day.
Photo by:  Greg Tsontakis-Mally

I managed to climb to the first tower but gave up thinking of going to the top.
Photo by:  Terrance Lazaroff


Greg is taking a break from the up hill quest.
This view will give you an idea of the angle of the climb.
It is a heart thumping hike.
Photo by: Anna Tsontakis-Mally

A great view from the first tower.  I was to tired to continue.
Photo by: Terrance Lazaroff

I found this part of the wall to be very enjoyable.  I have been to Badalin, and found it too much like a circus.   The day ended with the group taking a beverage, before the souvenir shops closed, for the day.  Shortly after leaving, we had to stop for a pee break.  The problem was that the public toilet had not been services in at least 10 years.   What a mess.   I would have preferred going in the bushes.
We arrived at our hotel just in time to find a good dining spot across the street.  After a great meal we walked back to the hotel stopping to enjoy street dancing. This is a common occurence in China.  The people like find a nice place where they can set up a speaker system and to dance the evening away.  We all stopped to participate.  The music was great and we all had a blast.   Day two would be Tienanmen Square, and the Forbidden City.  Be sure to come back to hear about this adventure.

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