Beijing and the Great Wall

After last night’s exhilarating concert in Beijing’s National Centre for the Performing Arts, the choir spent an energetic final day taking in the sights before flying home. Undaunted by an early start, the gents and boys piled into two coaches and set off for the Great Wall at Badaling. The weather was scorchingly hot, which made the near-vertical climb quite a challenge; it did, however, guarantee us some spectacular photographs. The choristers demonstrated surprisingly impressive haggling skills at the souvenir shops, casting a critical eye over the rows of pandas, key-rings and teapots.

After a lavish buffet lunch at the Wall, we headed back towards Beijing and to the Summer Palace. If possible, it felt even hotter here, so we paused for an essential ice cream before wandering around the lake and visiting the famous Long Corridor (which features over 14,000 individual paintings). The only stylish way to get back to the entrance was, of course, on board one of the dragon-headed boats on Kunming Lake – all the more appropriate since our guide had been telling us stories of Empress Dowager Cixi, the formidable ‘dragon lady’.

The boys were treated to a marvellous evening meal of pasta, barbeque ribs and chocolate cake, and as I write they are busy packing in their rooms. We head to the airport at midnight, and it is very hard to believe that the tour is nearly over. However, we have Hong Kong airport and two flights to navigate before arriving home, so there are without doubt adventures still to be had…!

SB

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