We made an early start today to drive out to see The Great Wall of China, one of the modern Wonders of the World. A cable car took us up to the top where the clients enjoyed a couple of hours of free time to explore before descending for lunch. God did us a favour again with the weather and the views were spectacular. Every time I visit The Wall Local Guide Lily & I pose for a selfie – same time, same place, every Tour! It’s getting to be a thing.
On the hill behind Lily’s head there are some giant Chinese characters cut into to the rock (Inside the circle highlighted and magnified in the photo above). They were made during the Cultural Revolution and exhort us all to “Be Loyal To Chairman Mao”.
So I was. Probably for the best really.
On the way back to Beijing we stopped at the Summer Palace. This lovely building got a rebuild and refurbishment as a gift to the Empress for her 60th Birthday in the 19th Century. It cost 3 years of the entire GDP of the country at the time and includes the largest man made lake and mountain in the world. They just don’t mess around here.
We had to hurry back to our hotel, because Beijing was beginning to get a little weird. On 01st October China celebrates 70 years of government by the Communist Party, since they defeated the Kuomintang who retreated to Taiwan. A massive e parade of 100,00 people and army personnel will take place to celebrate the occasion. The government has decided to hold full scale rehearsals over the preceding weekends and to enable that have simply closed down central Beijing at night All shops and restaurants have been instructed to close, all traffic including public transport shut down and we have been confined to our hotel. This is the view from the front of the hotel; normally the street would be rammed with thousand of cars, bikes and people. There are soldiers standing guard every 50 yards. Last night two people came over to our hotel from their hotel on th other side of the street and were not allowed to cross over to get back. They had to check into our hotel for the night. Ouch!
The strange thing is that this is kind of fun – You just wouldn’t get this happening anywhere else..From the comfort of the hotel bar (or the restaurant where we enjoyed a Peking Duck dinner tonight) we have been able to watch a display of Chinese armed forces driving by (Tanks, Missile Launchers, Helicopters on flat bed trucks, radar equipment and hundreds of buses carrying tens of thousands of young people in various costumes clutching flowers. China doing what only China can do this well – you may remember the Olympics.
The rehearsals are shrouded in secrecy. I went close to take a picture and was immediately stopped by a very cross soldier (scary) waving hands and telling me off, so that’s why there aren’t more photos. I did manage to sneak one phot in when things got seriously weird. About a thousand people, possibly soldiers marched past dressed in what looked like tinfoil. I have no idea what this is about but I do know that the parade is going to be the must see item of the year. It should be available to view on the internet, so I’ll post a link to video after the event. Thats it for tonight. It has been a busy and rather challenging day. I’ve done the rail tickets and seating for tomorrow, a task which is time consuming and complicated and I’m ready for a bedtime Jasmine Tea.