Tuesday, 20 May 2008


Just had 11 days out in China. What an experience, for the first time in my life I get the phrase "culture shock." Beijing is a mixture of the very modern and the incredibly ancient, the modern is definitely in your face opportunism and all about making money and the contrast is the tranquility of temples and temple gardens where we ended up spending a lot of our sightseeing time. Beijing is absolutely rammed with people, not as polluted as we were expecting, and there really are bikes absolutely everywhere, put me a bit to shame for the days when I decide not to ride becasue I think I have a lot of stuff to carry!

The reason for the trip was Glyn had business in Baotou, Inner Mongolia, 13 hours by sleeper train north of Beijing, we travelled "soft class" on the way up, carriage compartments with a door, 4 bunks, reading lights, carpet...... "hard class" on the way back, bays of triple deck, narrow bunks, only the bottom row with enough head room to sit up, lights out on the dot at 10pm, it was a bit like a strict, mobile youth hostel. We didn't encounter any other Westerners in Baotou and were definitely stared at a lot. Visited the tomb of Genghis Khan and the singing sand dunes, disappointing quiet but sliding down huge dunes on a big tea tray was great fun! Drank Mongolian milk tea which has butter and curds stirred in, passed on some of the weirder looking food, although Glyn made a good dent in a platter of wafer thin pigs ear. We were in Baotou when the earthquke struck, even though we were over 800 miles north we swayed a bit as we were 20 floors up when it hit. We've got more of an idea of how bad it was since getting home and watching the news here, TV coverage out there focussing very much on how brave and noble the victims and rescuers are, and that nobody should worry because the state will take care of them!

Managed a trip to the Great Wall before coming home, walked just over 6 miles of it, was as spectacular as imagined.

I'll get some more pictures up on Flickr soon and post a link.

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