Random thoughts from Pencefn

…. an engineer, singer and photographer living in Scotland

China 2012 – Ming Tombs, Great Wall and Beijing – 22 June 2012

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Business meeting concluded, I arranged for a day in the Beijing area before returning to the UK. Deciding what to do was very difficult with limited time available. I decided to take a tour to the Ming Tombs and Great Wall. Other parts of tour included a factory were jade was carved and a tea house.

As I was staying at an airport hotel, a taxi ride was required to get to the pick up point in central Beijing. Given the expected traffic congestion, this meant leaving at 06:45. However a clear run meant that I was at the pickup point around 20 minutes early. The guide arrived around five minutes later, and as I was the only person on the tour, we set off immediately.

Traffic congestion Beijing style

Traffic congestion Beijing style

Being a Chinese Public Holiday – Dragon Boat Day – there was heavy traffic leaving Beijing, most of which appeared to heading to the Great Wall at Badaling. Our first calling point was the Ming Tombs where there are the burial grounds to 13 of the 16 Ming emperors. The visit was to the largest of the excavated burial sites, the Changling Tomb, which is divided into three separate courtyards. Within one of the buildings there is a display of artefacts from the site. and a display of the history of the Tombs.

Changling Tomb Building

Changling Tomb Building

Changling statue in one of the tomb buildings

Changling statue in one of the tomb buildings

Silk Burning Stove at Chang Ling Tomb

Silk Burning Stove at Chang Ling Tomb

Leaving the Ming Tombs, the next stop was the Great Wall of China. The published itinerary was a trip to Badaling, however the guide advised that this section of the wall would be very busy, so the tour went to the wall at Juyongguan. This section of the wall is narrow and steep. I climbed up as far as Beacon 9, stopping part way up at a concession to buy a disposable raincoat (primarily to protect my camera from the passing rain shower).

Looking up the Great Wall at Juyongguan

Looking up the Great Wall at Juyongguan

Looking down the Great Wall from Beacon 9 at Juyongguan

Looking down the Great Wall from Beacon 9 at Juyongguan

Having been to the two main destinations of the tour, it was now back to Beijing to a Jade Factory (for lunch). As is common with type of tour, there is pressure to spend in the attached shop. Most of the items were priced at a high level, and those which were more affordable were not of a quality that I considered purchasing.

After lunch it was back into central Beijing to the area of the 2008 Olympic Park and the Bird’s Nest Stadium, enroute to the Dr Tea tea house. The Beijing smog prevent a clear view. At the tea house, the set up is based round getting the tour participants through the Tea Ceremony as fast as possible prior to more high pressure sales.

The Bird's Nest  stadium in Beijing surrounded by smog.

The Bird’s Nest stadium in Beijing surrounded by smog.

Leaving the Tea House I was able to grab a picture of a Games Lane marking (four years after the Olympic hosted by Beijing).

Beijing Olympic Games Lane

Beijing Olympic Games Lane

To get back to my hotel I decided to take the Airport Express. I was dropped off close to the station, however once in the station, finding the ticket office was not easy.However I managed and was soon on the train back to the airport.

Author: Stewart

An instrumentation engineer who enjoys photography and singing. Working in the West of Scotland; a member of St Mary's Cathedral Glasgow and Southwark Cathedral; and a volunteer guard/signalman on the Ffestiniog Railway in North Wales.

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