Before you read this I should apologise, a pre-warning of sorts, for changing tense several (not sure how many) times in todays blog.


This morning we left Beijing at 6am for the Great Wall of China.


The past few days have been not only fantastic, but fascinating. Our new Chinese friends Roy and Carol (we couldn’t spell or pronounce there real names, but fortunately they already had some western one’s ready for us), invited us to come for dinner with them in there home town, around one hours drive from Beijing.


We accepted of course.


Earlier that morning Roy and Carol had kindly driven all the way into the heart of Beijing’s bustling city to help us retrieve our bikes from the Beijing train station. If you’ve ever seen the train station you’ll know what I mean when I say it’s a sprawling mass of a place, designed to overawe even the most weary traveler with it’s monumentally grandiose formation. I would say it looks more… overweight.


Apparetly they still hadn’t arrived, but after some arguing, and me trying to go our the back myself and look, they were finally presented to us, albeit a little worse for wear, along with all of our bags.


Unfortunately our speedometers had been broken off our bikes. The funny thing was that we had tried to take them off before handing them over at the other end, but were unab,e to as they were permanently locked on.


Interestingly they hadn’t bothered to take the computers on the bicycles’ forks that enable the speedo’s to actually work- they would have come straight off. After this we cycled back to the Beijing City Central Youth Hostel, (another fine establishment), and Roy and Carol brought our bags back.


Our bikes back safe and we were off with Roy Jones and Carol, two of the best looking Chinese people we’ve ever met.


The drive out via the expressway was an interesting one, as I’d heard that earlier that day there’d been a crash, killing over thirty people; and with a decent imagination I’d foreseen my own grisly death in another such crash.


Well, it wasn’t to be, and after we’d made a few short detours, picking up Roy’s beautiful but exasperated wife we’d kept waiting on the side of the street for an indeterminable period of time we headed off to dinner.


This turned out to be a wonderful affair, all the dumplings, duck, vegetables and unidentifiable other things I didn’t know the name of you could eat, and before long Roy had invited us to crash one of his mates’ weddings.


Did we accept, well of course, who’d give up the chance to see a traditionally Chinese Western wedding. True paradox aside, that night we stayed at Roy's, having a fascinating discussion about Confucianism, Taiwan, Tibet, suppression, murder and Chinese autocracy, and just before being warned not to speak to anyone else about such things (apparently if we had of we may have been rotting in a Chinese prison cell right now along with Rio Tinto executives) we slumped into a wonderfully comfortable bed and fell asleep with an uneasy feeling. 

The wedding was a wonderful affair, unlike anything else I’d ever seen, and a bite more, and I might have even shed a few tears, but they could have been induced by all the smoke in the room. (You get a free plate of ciggies with you pre-dinner snacks, seriously-they were laid out on a plate!)

Lunch was a sumptuous banquet with so much food on our already over-sized table that plates wre being constantly piled on top of one another. Even if I hadn’t eaten for days I couldn’t possibly have sampled every dish… Although, I couldn’t possibly have wanted to either. In fact this may have been about the time the tears started flowing, but I can’t quite recall. After another delectably eccentric (sounds a little like myself) meal we headed back to Beijing, deliriously tired from all of the weekend’s excitement.


And so, much to your exasperation (if you’re still reading that is) the following morning we were finally at the self proclaimed ‘worlds greatest monument’ The Great Wall! (to death and slavery I might add).


After being scammed by the operators of the chair lift, taking our tickers and pretending to be the cable car, we finally got to the top just before 9am. The wall was incredible, the view made it even greater, the breeze made it cooler and the lack of crowds made it ‘choicer’ (a new word I just made up).


After walking up stairs for around 4 kilometers (felt like ten to my legs) we came to a section that said ‘DANGER, DO NOT ENTER. To me this was like saying WECOME SIR, PLEASE ENTER THE PALACE OF MANY VIRGINS (oops, did I really just thing that…) They would have been better of saying VERY BORING HERE, BUT KEEP WALKING IF YOU CAN BE BOTHERED! Now I was excited, woohoo here’s the good bit I thought as I jumped the barrier.


It soon became apparent others had read the same thing I did when we passed an excited Japanese couple that gave us the thumbs up (around four times). When we reached what we thought was the top of the mountain (mountain plateau), some time later, the track went bush, and this was were we found the real Great Wall of China.


Unmolested and untouched for must have been millennia, trees grew through the centuries old decaying turrets whilst rocks were strewn about the ruins from years of neglect, and here the path became difficult to follow.


It was just at this moment when I was clambering amongst the rocks that I saw it, a giant python, right before I almost stepped on it that was. My mouth clamped shut and you might have heard my heart beating from Beijing. But unlike  me this guy was a cool customer, and he slowly slid off and over the side of the wall whilst I was left standing there, with only a little dampness in my pants to prove the encounter ever happened.

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