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I was lucky to get away to Beijing for a long weekend on the super fast high speed train, the scenery whizzing past. Firstly I visited the amazing Forbidden City - which you enter through Tian'anmen, the Gate of Heavenly Peace located off Tian'anmen Square.
The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming dynasty to the end of the Qing dynasty from 1420 to 1912. It was the home of all the emperors and their households as well as the ceremonial and political centre of Chinese government. It has are more than 8,700 rooms and covers an area of about 178 acres so took a good part of a day to take it all in!
The next day was the Great Wall of China. After setting off in anticipation of the ancient wall we soon got stalled in the notorious Beijing traffic for 5 hours (we were told that it would take 2 hours to get there) this was a good way to get to know the rest of the tour crew who we would be spending the next 10 hours with. The Jinshanling to Simatai West wall hike tour took around 4 hours, crossing 22 ancient defensive towers designed to keep out invaders and also to protect the Chinese silk trade. The rugged up and down mountain inclines were extreme, with amazing views of the countryside and surrounding mountain ranges - also a really amazing place to think about life!
There were local people scattered about at ever couple of defense towers who had set up little stalls selling t-shirts, cold drinks, coffee - always up for a chat. This guy swapped me a picture of him for a purchase of his drinks - I liked his style.
Finally making it to the allocated last defense tower was a relief - the towers as you can imagine just kept going and going and I was beginning to think it would never end. Was a stunning adventure I will never forget!