Next Up: Kilimanjaro

Freshly back from their Wall of China Trek. Chris and John have signed up to take on Kilimanjaro in February 2010.

If you would like to sponsor them please go to:

All proceeds will go to The Ayrshire Hospice.

We are currently loading lots of new China Trek Photographs and these should be available to view and download later today.

Puppy Tour Comes to a Close

Woof! I had an early rise this morning as I'm still worried about the ransom; but I rolled out of bed and ran and gave dad a big lick! As we haven’t raised the full ransom money yet dad is going to attempt to smuggle him out of the country (gulp!)

After breakfast, noodles and fish chews, and brief morning walkies (no more stairs for the oldies!) it was off to the airport.

Got some cool pictures at the airport, first of all with some nice bears I met in Starbucks and then some more with Chinese security. Silly fools let me out the country without paying the rest of the ransom!! They even let me pose with their flags!

Of course, being the coolest puppy in China; completely lovable, intelligent, successful, popular, fashionable, rich, modest and so on... (it comes naturally) I managed to get the dude at the check-in desk to upgrade me to business class. Tail-wagging stuff! Woof!

And as I'm such a celebrity even the pilots wanted a picture!! It does get embarrassing at times. However, they let me fly the plane for 100 miles but they woudn't let me try a loop-the-loop, oh well, suppose it meant dads wig never fell off! Had a good flight to Amsterdam and I got peace and quiet in business class whilst Dad, Chris, John and Stewart slummed it through the curtain. No snoring and no smelly feet. Result!

In Amsterdam we had a final drink with the trekkers before catching the last flight home. I got some nice cheese too, mmm, Puppy loves cheese!

I have had a fabulous week walking the Great Wall with all the team, thanks to Dad for taking me!

I am very grateful for all the support from everyone at home and abroad and hope the that donations keep coming in so that Zara doesn’t have to keep me hidden from the Chinese generals at the Seamill takeaway! But even if I do have to hide, her bedroom is always very messy so it should be easy to hide for a while - well until December when she has to tidy it for Santa!

Keep watching the website for updates on my future adventure and progress on my ransom collection.

Dad tells me his mates John and Chris have a big announcement coming up tomorrow once they run it past their wives! -Those presents better be good boys!!! Stay tuned! WOOOF!xx

On Our Way Home!

Another early start, 6am alarm and we all meet in Reception. The difference is that this time everyone has sad faces. There are some of our group staying on to see the Terracotta Warriors, so the first tearful farewells are at the Hotel.

On the Bus everyone is very subdued and then Vicky our Chinese guide gives a very moving farewell speech.

I think the that one of the two Linda’s from Jools summed this week up well – "fandabydozy!"

At this point we would all like to take this opportunity to say a few Thanks.

So in no particular order....

First of all a big thanks to everyone who has taken the time to follow our adventure especially those who have made comments and donations. The comments in particular have been great motivation over the last week or so.

Big thanks to Stewart McGookin and David Woodison at Microtech for their hard work in processing the blogs and pictures. Bottles are on their way!

Special thanks to Justine from The Ayrshire Hospice who arranged this Trek. She proved to be more than a capable coordinator as well as formidable trekker.

The challenge was organised by Action Challenge and their representative was the lovely Alison. Georgina Hobbs from Tailor Made Trekking lead the trek in conjunction with the Chinese International Travel Service (CITS). Big thanks to Peter, Jerry, Michelle and especially Vicky who has the most infectious laugh in the world.

Massive thanks to all our fellow trekkers, we have shared some very special and unforgettable moments with each and every one of them. Too many to mention them all here but in particular but we like a special thanks to Graham Gibson who was the unofficial photographer (although he does sometimes go too far!)

Thanks to Robert and all of the staff at Seamill Hydro Leisure Club.

Finally and most importantly, none of us Guys could have contemplated even being here, let alone surviving this challenge without the support of wives and children.

So massive thanks, hugs and kisses on their way to...
Anne, Caitlin & Nicole.
Jacqueline, Zara (thanks for letting us borrow Puppy).
Ann, Sharon, Craig and Iain.
Kathleen, Elise and Nathan.

We are writing this final blog at Schipol Airport in Amsterdam. Be home soon!

The Guys

Ps. Big thanks to our in-house translator Stewart, it will take him months to lose his (fake) Chinese accent!

Puppy's Final Day - We Hope!

Woof! I’ve been a bit of a naughty pup today! Despite not being able to fully see over the steering wheel I drove my fellow trekkers to The Forbidden City in a big bus! We then went on to Silk Alley. What a wonderful place! But I ha to make a quick exit, one my Great Uncle Scooby would have been proud, of as I don’t have a Chinese Driving Licence. Oops!

I got to sit in the emperors chair but they wouldn’t let me take a picture, did manage to get a picture of a beautiful local girl but she wouldn’t hold me in the picture. Grrr. Weather was once again very warm today and I managed to get a few more pictures within this massive palace. It would make a great kennel!

Later on we went shopping in the silk market, got another picture at the reception with an aeroplane although the armed guards weren’t that happy! Surely they wouldn’t shoot a we pup like me though? Thankfully a couple of my fellow trekkers stepped in and after a little money exchanged hands we were on our way! One of the guards had suggested he’d make puppy stew and noodles for tea the next day! Phew, glad I escaped!

Went to help dad and the guys do some shopping late afternoon - boy did they look stressed!! I’m lucky as I just had a chew to buy for my girlfriend Susie but Dad, John, Stewart and Chris were particularly stressing: ‘colour?’, ‘cost?’, ‘size?’, ‘does it match?’ and so on… it looks like a difficult job being a married man, glad im a dog!

Went for dinner in the oldest restaurant in Beijing and had a fine final meal! A meal fit for any dog. Sadly duck will never taste the same at home again. Hopefully my friends at Pedigree Chum will take note! Duck tastes better than Cat!

Had a wee late night stroll around some bars tonight, partying and saying my farewells.

I think I’m going to miss China, if I get home!

Shopping Day!

No trekking today (Sunday) but still plenty of walking. After an excellent breakfast we board the bus for trip to the forbidden city. This is a stunning example of the extreme decadence of the emperors of the previous Chinese Dynasty’s. Whilst in its day there is no doubt that it would be a luxurious residence it is clearly an obscene self indulgence.

Our Chinese guide was quick to point out the comparison to Buckingham Palace, with 9000 rooms it easily surpasses the 600 in The Queens Home. We could not fail to be impressed by the vast area that it covered although this could be required with a concubine of 3000 wives, associated children and widows from former emperors and If you then add on the eunuch’s (ouch) then I suppose that the numbers soon add up.

In Communist China, parents of Young Virgin girls as young as thirteen used to present their children to the Emperor to let him select them for his concubine. In a number of cases the emperor did not even consummate the relationship and the girls never having seen their family again, died as virgins.

In the case of eunuch’s, young boys were castrated at an early age, sometimes dying in the process due the extreme procedure, that took a recovery period of two years. The boys were then offered as slaves to the emperor and received a small salary which they would then pass down to the family to bring up other members. Often castrated boys were rejected even after going through this brutal mutilation.

After this tour we headed to the Silk Market for some serious shopping. This was a complete nightmare for the inexperienced shopper (although we are pretty sure our wives would have been in their element). Basically you walk through rows of stalls and young predominately female stall holders shout at the top of their voice, trying to entice you to stop and have a look at their merchandise. If you are naive enough to actually stop then you are constantly badgered by two or three individuals about what size, colour, style you would like to buy. Now obviously we were all given lists and instruction about potential gifts and presents so therefore all had to make at least one purchase. This is where the ‘fun’ starts. The seller starts off by giving you a ludicrously high price. Once you have expressed horror at this, you are then expected to make a counter offer. I would really like to think that no one is daft enough to pay the first price but I expect that they hope for the unsuspecting target. After a series of bids and counter bids, during which the seller will beg, cry and curse. You will range from being handsome, a robber, depriving their family of food and generally coerced into paying as high a price as possible before ‘agreeing’ upon a number. In some cases this involved you walking away only to be then chased through the market still trying to haggle.

If you have bartered well the final price should bear absolutely no resemblance to the first price quoted. An example of this would be a Rolex Watch. First price offered was 2200Yen, around £220. I was assured on the grave of my sellers late mother that this was an original timepiece and would not find another anywhere else in the market because all the others were fake. How lucky was I finding a genuine article after such a short vist. After much gnashing of teeth, questions about your parentage, accusations of offending the whole Chinese race and walking away 2 or 3 times, the final agreed price was 180Yen, around £18. No difference there then! What a bargain, it’s not every day you manage to get a genuine diamond encrusted Rolex watch for less than 20 quid.

We all had headaches after less than an hour trawling through this crowded market.

Today we had a celebration dinner at the oldest Chinese restaurant in Beijing. 135 years old but without doubt one of the best meals we have ever had. The Peking Duck was excellent, we had a number of moving speeches and shared some memories and experiences of our travels. We were without doubt a varied group of individuals comprising of Students, Teachers, Labourers, Businessmen, Housewives, Care Workers and Retired Pensioners. Our eldest walker was Kristine from Dalry, 75 years old and walking like a 25 year old. Our youngest was Paul, 17 years old but mature beyond his years.

Back to the hotel for farewell drinks, a few tears from some and more shared stories. It is difficult to explain how much is shared during hours of walking.

Early rise tomorrow for the trip home.