Day 20: Shanhaiguan – Beijing: Back to the Base

Beijing, 05/10/2005 at 23:00

Day 20: Shanhaiguan – Beijing: Back to the Base

As agreed our contact in the taxi underworld of Shanhaiguan had kept his word to arrive with a mini bus to bring us to Beijing. We hadto take the bikes partly apart, but at the end everything fitted and we were brought safely to Beijing. The driver apparently knew all the tricks in the book about avoiding road tolls, including changing license plates and driving through tolls so closely following cars in front of us, that the gates closed on top of the car (but did let it pass). Despite all of this we checked in at the hotel relatively early and spent the rest of the afternoon tourist shopping including having our own special “chop” made (due to illiteracy people earlier needed another form of signature than chinese letters. The chop would be a graphical signature in the form of a stamp made with red ink. ). In the evening we enjoyed a delicous Peking Duck dinner at the restaurant next to the hotel.

Day 19: Shanhaiguan: End of the Wall

Beijing, 05/10/2005 at 23:00

Day 19: Shanhaiguan: End of the Wall

Finally ready for a bit of sightseeing in Shanhaiguan this day was about seeing the first part of the Wall. We started out early in the morning at “The First Pass Under Heaven”, which is the first important tower on the Wall. Having enjoyed this we took the cableway up the first mountain pass that the Wall crosses. At the top we had spectacular view of the entire area including the ocean, lake Yansai, and a monastery. You could see how the Wall, crawled its way down the mountain, through the town of Shanhaiguan into the ocean – a bit like a very long dragon. It leads to the “Old Dragon’s Head”, which is where the Wall begins or ends and where we went afterwards. We were standing on the very first part of the Wall – practically in the ocean. A very special feeling. To finalize the day we went to the Temple of the Sea God to enjoy the sunset. In the evening we had our most spicey dinner so far, which we tried to drown with Great Wall wine.

Day 18: Bei Dai He – Shanhaiguan: Lost in China

Beijing, 05/10/2005 at 23:00

Day 18: Bei Dai He – Shanhaiguan: Lost in China

A few times during our holiday the biking route guidebook has been a bit of a challenge – on this day more than ever. After 12 kilometers we decided to return to Bei Dai He and start over. Again we didn’t make the guidebook fit reality and decided to navigate on our own, mainly using the sun as compass and the locals as guide. Eventually we made our way to Shanhaiguan where we passed the place where the Great Wall meets the Bohai Sea, to arrive at the hotel shortly after. We still needed to arrange transportation back to Beijing, but the physical battle for queue spaces and seats on the train made (forced) us to take care of our own transportation. Basically there were no seats available in the train due to this week being Chinese holiday, so we hooked up with a local cab driver to arrange a “taxi” for those 300 kilometers to Beijing. Well above the train price, but for European standards very doable!

Day 17: Golden Coast – Bei Dai He: Happy Birthday China

Bei Dai He, 01/10/2005 at 23:00

Day 17: Golden Coast – Bei Dai He: Happy Birthday China

On the 1st of October 1949 the People’s Republic of China was declared, which makes today China’s 56th birthday. We celebrated with a short ride to beach resort Bei Dai He in good weather and spent all afternoon on the beach relaxing and reading. Unfortunately there was no sun during all afternoon – we had a good time anyway. One of the weirdest things today was the sight of an American beach. Behind a high fence Americans (NO Chinese) were playing games and sitting around enjoying the beach, while on the other side of the fence the Chinese (NO Westerners except us) were looking at the Americans – not unlike at the Zoo. Quite embarrasing for the people inside the fence, we thought…
Tomorrow we will have our last day on the bikes for a while. It’s the last planned day of cycling with baggage for this holiday. Meanwhile it’s quite late and we’ll be heading back to the hotel now – if we can find a taxi.