This was a bit of a disappointment to me, as it has become a three-ring circus in some parts of this magnificent monument. Stallholders who are in your face trying to sell anything and everything that relates to the great wall hound you. It is mainly tourist crap anyway and you can get better souvenirs in Beijing. If you are staying at the Downtown backpackers they do a great tour to the wall but be prepared for a hard day’s walking.
Out and about
The best way to get about Beijing is by underground or bus as these two transport systems are cheap and very reliable. The stations on the underground are in pin yin as well as Chinese so us foreigners can get to most of the local attractions and parks using this system. The cost on the underground is 3 Yuan about 20p in our money and the buses are even cheaper at 1 Yuan about 7p. You can travel a long way for your money and on the underground as long as you don’t come up from the station you only pay 3 Yuan and can travel on the red line and the loop line. Taxis are also very cheap compared to England but beware as Beijing is a huge city the taxi drivers will not always know where you want to go, it helps to have a map and also a Chinese speaker if possible.
We also traveled by taxi to the International wushu association in Beijing where they have a large selection of books and DVD’s on all different styles of Chinese martial arts. I also visited Beijing Physical Education University where there are shops that specialise in weapons and managed to pick up a couple of chain whips for my Gung Fu brother John Farrell at 70 Yuan for both, less than £6!!
Yunhe Gong Temple
This is a must visit when in Beijing as the temple grounds are magnificent. On the outside of the temple are shops selling incense and beads, these shops are cheaper than buying stuff in the temple itself. Once you enter the temple grounds all sounds of the city have disappeared and it is peaceful and tranquil. There are large pagodas housing the different Buddhist deities and Buddha’s, as it was a festival day when I visited it would bring me good fortune if I lit incense at every altar, so armed with two bags full of incense I honoured this tradition which took about two hours. This temple is near to Ditan Park and after visiting it I walked the 20 minutes or so to Ditan Park to visit my friend Phil and his teacher Wen Da Sheng.
I can’t wait to return to Beijing and continue my journey in Sun Style!!
I would like to thank the following people who made this trip possible
My son Dav, David and Siu Ying Martin, Phil Morrell, Jenny, Peter Farrell and all my students from Salford and Blackpool.
A special thank you to Lei Laoshi for sharing such a wonderful gift and for Dave in opening up the door so that I could step through.