Our last day of sight seeing in Beijing was an extremely tough one for some of our group. Around 8 students and teachers had been ill during the night and several struggled out of bed to make the bus ride to the Great Wall at Badaling. The weather was bright and sunny but unfortunately some of us were really struggling.
After just over an hour on the bus we arrived at the wall to begin our trek. To their credit even the sickest amongst us climbed up part of the wall to ensure they made the most of this opportunity.
The views were spectacular and much of the wall and surrounding mountains were covered in snow and ice. The ice in some places made climbing up and down the wall quite difficult at times. The steps were so steep in some places it was almost like climbing a vertical ladder. People set their goals for the time we had and climbed at their own pace. We all took time to rest, take photos and take in the magnificent scenery. True to form Wyatt made the highest point of the climb well before anyone else and interrupted Mr Chester’s bartering for Great Wall t-shirts with a phone call to let him know! Around half of the ‘healthy’ group took on the challenge and managed to make the highest point before beginning the thigh burning descent.
It was hard to believe that this wall was built so long ago in this inhospitable terrain. Without modern machinery and technology it truly was an amazing feat. Easier to believe was the fact that so many people died while working on the construction of the wall. It must have been incredibly dangerous and demanding work. Initially convicts were used in construction, then regular people were conscripted to do 3 years service assisting the building. Finally the wall was completed by the army.
After buying some t-shirts, plaques and other souvenirs we boarded the bus to head to our lunch venue. The restaurant was above a Cloisonne (enamelware) factory so we had a short tour before sitting down to lunch. After lunch we boarded the bus to drive back into Beijing for our last shopping opportunity at the silk market. En route we discovered that Lewis and Patrick were the winners of our 2 Melbourne Cup sweeps and they happily picked up a few extra RMB to spend at the market.
The silk market was crazy, with 5 floors of small shops and very aggressive sales people! We all quickly handed over the money we had been saving for this shopping spree and the bus was overloaded by the time we were all back on board! We drove back to the hotel and those who were still not feeling well opted for a shower and an early night. The rest of us went out for dinner and enjoyed some time walking around the shops and restaurants before heading back to the hotel to try and fit everything into our cases.
A well earned sleep in is on the agenda tomorrow before boarding the bus at 10.30am for our flight from Beijing to Shanghai. After a few hours at Shanghai airport we will board our flight to Melbourne.
See you all in Australia on Thursday morning!