Thursday, 9 July 2009

Great Wall of China - June 07-15, 2002. Day 2 - London, Heathrow to Beijing

Above: Beijing (北京 - formerly known in English as Peking) a metropolis in northern China and the capital of the People's Republic of China (PRC). It is one of the four municipalities of the PRC, which are equivalent to provinces in China's administrative structure. The municipality of Beijing borders Hebei Province to the north, west, south, and for a small section in the east, and Tianjin Municipality to the southeast.

As mentioned on the previous post, I had set my watch to Beijing time (06:08 Hrs.) and fell asleep. Beccy had a bit of a sporadic sleep due to the woman in the chair behind constantly punching her seat. She got up for a wander and was greeted by 6 Chinese people practising Karate! She went back to her seat and went back to sleep. The activity looking after the Hong Kong news broadcaster Liu Hairuo who was in a coma behind us was intense and I really had to admire the medical team who were looking after her. They were fantastic. She had a curtain around her, and they were very discreet in what they were doing.

We arrived in Beijing at about 2.30pm Beijing time. As we left the plane, there were hoards of press waiting for Liu Hairuo to get off the plane. As I left her, I felt a very strong sense of embarrassment being British. I thought again about writing to Tony Blair about this appalling tragedy. I never did.

We were greeted at the airport by our Australian tour guide for the week. He was a typical rugged Australian by the name of Ken. After a short drive through Beijing, we arrived at our very nice hotel, where after dumping our stuff in the rooms, followed by a quick shower, in traditional Round Table fashion we headed straight for the bar.

Above: Beccy beside a huge vase in the bar at our hotel in Beijing holding a Chinese beer.

Above: Round Tablers from all over the UK gather in the bar for a "beer or two"!

The barman was totally blown away by the volumes of beer we ordered. He didn't seem to know what had hit him. He didn't know how much it was, how many we wanted, and he was in total confusion. In less than 30 minutes we had drunk the bar dry. A formidable feat for the Chinese it seemed, but, being Tablers, we couldn't understand what all the fuss was about. So we left the hotel, and walked through the streets of Beijing to a Chinese restaurant for our evening meal.

Above: Some of the amazing architecture in the streets of Beijing.

Above: In a traditional Chinese restaurant, during which more beer was consumed for the incredible price of 45 pence for a 1 litre bottle! Even for 2002 prices that was cheap.

Following our hearty meal, we all headed off to the local Irish Bar (talk about when in Rome do as The Roman's do!). The bar was full of about 100 Chinese people watching Brazil play The Peoples Republic of China in the FIFA 2002 World Cup, a game in which Brazil won 4:0.

Above: The people of Beijing watch their national team being beaten 4:0 by Brazil.

The night continued as it had started with much merriment, drinking of beer, and getting to know the members of the team who we would be spending the next 5 days with walking the Great Wall of China, and living in tents beside the Great Wall. Beccy proved herself to be a demon pool player, and we eventually walked back to the hotel and went to sleep at about 01.30am. It had been a long day, and great fun, but tomorrow was the start of what we were actually here for, to walk on The Great wall of China.

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