After an extremely busy day and a good night's sleep we were once again up early for breakfast for our last day of the tour before we flew home.
Our first stop of the day was the Summer Palace.
The Summer Palace is a vast ensemble of lakes, gardens and palaces. It serves as a popular tourist destination and recreational park.
Mainly dominated by Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake , it covers an expanse of 2.9 square kilometres (1.1 sq mi), three-quarters of which is water.
Longevity Hill is about 60 metres (200 feet) high and has many
buildings positioned in sequence. The front hill is rich with splendid
halls and pavilions, while the back hill, in sharp contrast, is quiet
with natural beauty. We walked around the lake to the base of the hill to see the white building in the distance.
The small windows were exquisite.
The central Kunming Lake, covering 2.2 square
kilometres (540 acres), was entirely man-made and the excavated soil was
used to build Longevity Hill.
We continued exploring
there was music playing,
We had some interesting conversations with other tourists, I told you in my last post how Westerners are a curiosity in China didn't I? The Chinese tourists loved having their photo taken with us.
Whilst waiting for all our group to assemble our guide needed to use the loo and left me in charge of the flag so the group would know they were in the right place. I felt honoured.
Back on the coach again our next stop was a visit to a Jade Factory, where we also had lunch. The jade was beautiful and very expensive. I did buy one of the cheaper bracelets made from offcuts of different coloured jade and a small jade elephant ( I collect elephants), lovely momentos of our trip. MWM purchased his usual Tshirts from various stops - he has more Tshirts than I have elephants!
After lunch we continued our journey to the last place we were to visit on our tour of China - the Great Wall!
It was quite a hike to reach the place where we actually ascended the wall.
We did walk a short way on the wall itself
up to the first tower on the North Side.
Until you see the wall with your own eyes you cannot imagine the magnitude of it, photographs do not do it justice. The Great Wall of China is a series of fortifications made of stone, brick, tamped earth,
wood, and other materials, generally built along an east-to-west line
across the historical northern borders of China to protect the Chinese states and empires against the raids and invasions of the various nomadic groups of the Eurasian Steppe.
Several walls were being built as early as the 7th century BC; these, later joined together and made bigger and stronger, are now collectively referred to as the Great Wall. Especially famous is the wall built 220–206 BC by Qin Shi Huang,
the first Emperor of China. Little of that wall remains. Since then,
the Great Wall has on and off been rebuilt, maintained, and enhanced;
the majority of the existing wall is from the Ming Dynasty. The history of the wall is fascinating, you can follow this link
if you wish to read more about it.
Some of our group walked quite a way but we decided to retire to the small cafe/bar for refreshments to wait for them there.
Whilst we were waiting two young men from Nepal decided MWM would be the perfect person to advertise their product - Yak's Cheese, they asked him to pose with them whilst holding one of their leaflets. I presume their new leaflet now features that photograph. LOL
Eventually the rest of our group joined us for a beer at the cafe/bar. The owner of the Greatwall Bar was playing a CD over her loudspeaker featuring Daniel O'Donnell singing 'You Are My Sunshine' and was so thrilled when we all started singing along she played it another 3 times insisting we sing along! We asked if she could change the music so she put some country and western songs on, to which we also sang along. When it was time for us to leave we had gathered quite a crowd of Chinese tourists (again) who were filming our singalong. I imagine we are on YouTube somewhere, if you come across it please let me know. It was the perfect end to the last day of the tour and one we all agreed we would remember forever including our guide, who was in tears because she said we were the best group she had ever had and she would miss us.
On the way back to the hotel we passed the Olympic Village in Beijing.
Back at the hotel we had time to freshen up before meeting up with our fellow travellers again in the hotel restaurant for our last meal together, and time to reflect on the highlights of the tour, of which there were many. We had an early start the following morning for the journey to the airport and our flight home so we didn't stay up late but we did have a few drinks to celebrate.
It truly was an amazing holiday and if you have ever thought of doing it you really should, you will not be disappointed. I really hope I have brought some of the magic of China to your armchair and I'm sure we will relive it all many times when we look through our photographs.