Beijing China

Day 39 – Wednesday February 22, 2017

As previously posted, we arrived in Xinyang port last night but were unable to leave the ship until cleared by immigration officials this morning. It started snowing early yesterday evening and continued into the night. We didn’t know how this would affect our planned travels to Beijing and the Great Wall which is normally a three-plus hour trip.

View of the terminal from the ship as we were preparing to debark.

The terminal building was amazingly modern and beautiful. It certainly seemed under-utilized, we were the only ship in port. There was one other ship here when returned on Thursday.

We made it through immigration and eventually boarded our coach. It was very comfortable and there was plenty of room. This overnight trip was not with Holland America but with Cruise Specialist. It was a small group of 31 including our hosts Henk and Lucia Barnhoorn. Unfortunately, after only about 30 minutes of traveling, we found ourselves in a massive traffic backup trying to enter the toll road. Our driver and our guide exited the bus and found that these truck drivers had been stranded overnight. After a few calls, Eric, our guide said the road was expected to open in about 30 minutes (10:00 AM). It eventually did open at 11:00 and we were 1.5 hours behind schedule.

This is the convince center where we stopped for a bathroom break. Very modern, but by American standards the store was quite sparsely stocked with limited choices for purchase.

By unanimous consent, our group agreed that instead of stopping for lunch we would allow Eric to pick up some “snack” food to sustain us. We would certainly rather miss lunch than miss the Great Wall. This is one of the advantages of traveling with a private group, you have more flexibility. I believe everyone enjoyed the guilt foods – Snickers, Oreos, potato chips and a uniquely Chinese snack which Eric called a chicken sausage. It was more like a chicken flavored paste in a plastic tube. It was ok, but I think you would have to develop a taste for it. It did provide protein to get us through the day.

Lots of snow along the way.

One of our first views of the fabled Great Wall of China

There several section of the Great Wall which the government has opened for the public. We are visiting the Juyongguan Pass located in the 11 m long Guangou Valley. The pass is one of the three greatest mountain passes of the Great Wall of China. The other two are Jiayuguan and Shanhaiguan Passes.

This pass had many different names during former Chinese dynasties. However, the name "Juyongguan" was used by more than three dynasties. It was first used in the Qin Dynasty when Emperor Qinshihuang ordered the building of the Great Wall. Juyongguan pass was connected to the Great Wall in the Southern and Northern Dynasties era. The present pass route was built in the Ming Dynasty and received much renovation later. It was a very important strategic place connecting the inner land and the area near the northern border of China. It was also used to defend the ancient city of Beijing.

Not much commentary with the following photos. Just enjoy.

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If Kay looks cold, it’s because she was!

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We decided to brave the steps. They were steep and many, but the biggest challenge was the snow which covered them…

View from near the top of the mountain.

Carl is obviously enjoying himself.

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Close-up of some of the 10’s of thousands of roof tiles.

I feel we were fortunate to be able to see the Great Wall with snow, despite the lowered “comfort” level.

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The Changling Mausoleum, one of the Ming Tombs.. The tomb assumes the shape of a flat-topped square cone, with a bottom girth of 600 meters and a height of 31.94 meters. East of the stone archways on both sides of the mausoleum there are 63 satellite tombs of famous officials and imperial relatives, including Xiao He, Cao Shen and Zhou Bo. In recent years, many burial pits were also discovered around Changling Mausoleum and the satellite tomb area.

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After a very long day, we were all excited to reach our Hotel.

The beautiful lobby.

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A bed never looked so good! The Four Seasons is a few steps above my usual lodgings allotment. Embarrassingly, while attempting to turn on the room light when I entered, I instead pressed the button (one of about six by the door) which summoned an attendant. A couple of minutes later our doorbell, yes doorbell, rang with a smiling young lady wishing to know what we required.

The accommodations were beyond great.

Shortly after check-in we were treated to fresh fruits and sweet treats.

Our room was on the 21st floor. This is the view down to the atrium. Eric, our guide told us that the Four Seasons was currently the highest rated Hotel in the City. Our tour arrangements were made by Abercrombie & Kent who we have used before. They are a first-class tour company.

We arrived in time to freshen up before dinner which was at 7:30 PM. We were given a private room for the meal with a private bar. Included in the meal was unlimited mixed drinks plus wine or beer for the first hour. For the second and third hour, only unlimited wine and beer were provided (in addition to tea, soft drinks, sparkling water, etc.).

The above menu does not do justice to the feast we were served. The “Selection of Appetizers” alone were a meal. There were at least 10 different selections in huge quantities.

My personal favorite menu items were the “Sweet and Sour Mandarin Fish”, the ”King Prawns with Wasabi” and the “Braised Pork Belly with Black Truffles”, but I loved everything. The only problem was eating entirely too much!

I will try to post our second day in Beijing tomorrow,

Until then….

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2 Responses to Beijing China

  1. erniezaremba says:

    Great photos, I’ve never seen “The Wall in the snow “. I appreciate the photo of the menu, it gives me great ideas about food choices.

    Like

  2. Mary Helen Lamb says:

    I am enjoying reading with you as you travel. Glad you are having a wonderful time.m

    Like

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