End of the group travel experience

Today was the last day of the tour. A trip to the Great Wall was planned, and until this morning, we were going. Unfortunately we are having a heat wave at the moment, with today forecast to reach 35 degrees. The actual tour of the wall was to take place at about 1.30 p.m., just as the heat was really coming in.

Going with the tour would have meant a long day of bus travel, plus two more banquet meals, then coming home in the dark via train or taxi, whilst most of the group went to catch their flight home. The idea of being able to please ourselves and to come back to the hotel when it became hot was too tempting.

This morning we went down the street a little to visit an outdoor museum dedicated to Chinese ethnic minorities. It’s odd and sort of kitchy, and the day very foggy, but it was still rather nice being in the open air. We discovered the purpose of the old Chinese covered bridges over water. We went out at about 11.00 a.m., and it was hot and humid, yet sitting on seats in the covered bridge there was a natural air conditioning effect. The breeze was cool and it was very lovely.

We chose a clean looking place for lunch, and when we sat down realised it was a muslim restaurant, with the women wearing head scarves and the men little caps. A waitress had the good thought of bringing her phone over to our table to work out what we wanted to eat. We choose beef noodle soup, which came with vegetables and a good quantity of meat. It was delicious. We could see one of the chefs making noodles by taking small sections of dough and stretching it again and again until it was in thin strands to cook in boiling water. Quite different to other ways we have seen of making noodles (on cooking shows).

This afternoon we have had a nap and listened to a Desert Island Disk with A S Byatt being interviewed.

Because we are staying an extra two nights in Beijing we tried to get a good price for a room at this hotel. Our Beijing tour guide was able to help us out, and although we had to pay more than perhaps we wanted to pay, we have an upgraded room, with lots of space. We went on line to book a hotel for our five nights in Chongqing, and secured a small apartment type room, with a washing machine. I am very much hoping the washing machine turns out to be a reality, we will find out Wednesday afternoon when we arrive in Chongqing.

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