14th June 2015:
Mike wrote about our surprise discovery of a neglected part of the ancient wall a few days ago some 400kms south east of Beijing. We were astonished to have the wall to ourselves and spent a couple of hours there marveling at the construction of the wall and the fact that it still sands and is visible as it stretches across the hills. Yes we climbed up and over and took heaps of photos and spent a considerable amount of time there.
We also met the Honey Mellon seller who lives in the little ramshackle village around this part of the wall. He came up to us and with Jerry with us we had quite a conversation with him and his mate. He was a good salesman; sharing a choice piece of his wares and I must say the honey mellon was delicious. He selected some mellons for us to buy and we asked him to sign our cars which he was delighted to do. The next day we cut up the mellons only to find both mellons were rotten inside. Ah well as Ned Kelly would say – such is life!. This did not distract from our unique experience it just makes the experience more memorable. I’m sure in the future we will tell this story many times.
Yesterday we went to see the Great Wall north of Beijing. What a contrast. We left the city around 9.00am and got onto the 6th Ring Road within 15 minutes. Beauty we thought. Our hopes for a quick get away from Beijing were dashed as soon as we got 5 minutes down the road. The highway was blocked with traffic. It took the best part of an hour to get about 10k’s but then we were on our way again sharing the road with some very impatient drivers. Into the hills and traffic was down to a crawling pace with cars trying to drive through the smallest gaps, left and right of us. We wondered where all the traffic was going. Yes, you guessed it, to see the Great Wall of course. Jerry decided to take us to the most Northern entrance as not only is this part more photogenic there are generally less people there. As we got to a few KMs of the wall we hit another traffic jam. We could see a fire engine with its red light flashing just ahead (also stuck in the jam) and considered our options. As we were conversing on our two-way radio a young lady in an apron appeared and came to speak to Jerry (he attracts all the ladies). It transpired that she was out trying to get business for her families restaurant in a small village just off the man drive up the mountain. The deal she put to us was; she would guide us around the traffic by going through her village; allow us to park at their restaurant if on our return we had lunch at her restaurant. A deal was quickly stuck. She was to guide us. Now this young lass (who was quite solidly built) jumped on one of those tiny electric mopeds that you see everywhere in China and with legs sprayed wide started pedaling like a mad man – it was sight for sore eyes, seeing this apparition in an apron pedaling so fast down the road. Electric it may be but they still need to be charged – it was a hilarious sight and we all split our sides laughing at this incredible sight. (We were laughing so much we all missed the opportunity to take a photo – a truly missed opportunity.She took us to a lovely village that had been rebuilt in ancient style about 10 years ago as a resort. The investment failed and there are now only a couple of restaurants there with all the other buildings empty and fast decaying. Before we could go she asked for a deposit of 200RMS – smart lady.
A 10 minute walk and we were at the cable car that would take us up to the wall. On arriving at the Wall we soon discovered where all the traffic was going – you guessed it; to visit the wall. There were one or two foreigners there but generally they were all Chinese. The place was absolutely packed. Mike and I went for a bit of a walk but were soon back. Been there done that style. Our surprise visit to the crumbling wall a few days ago was much more interesting.
Returning from the Wall and walking down the old village street we met a young man and his family who lived in the village. He spoke very good English and that is how we learnt about how the village came about and its history. Another Company has now taken over the investment and there are great expectations. His daughter of nine was enthralled by our cars. It took some persuasion from her dad but eventually she got the courage to sign our cars. A wonderful experience. The food at the restaurant was very good but quite expensive but we would not have missed this experience for quids.