Finally arrived in Beijing and its snowing!

So much for the reassurances from the travel company that the winter season will be over by the time we got here. According to our Chinese liaison (Vicky) they have only had snow twice in the last 2 years.... lucky us.

This wasn’t the first time that previous advice turned out to be flawed. “you won’t need yen currency” we were assured. Try telling that to the girl in starbucks who made John pay for two cappuccino’s with his credit card.

Our tour consists of two groups, 30 representing Ayrshire Hospice and 34 from St Andrews Hospice in Airdrie. St Andrews have been on previous treks whilst Ayrshire are trekking virgins. St Andrews have never had any casualties, this time we had 2 casualties before we even got off the plane!

We had one individual suffering from severe back pains and another who was removed from the plane by paramedics and as I type is still in the local hospital, although as we understand it he is doing fine.

The things some people will do to get out of this walk!! Seriously, we are all thinking about you Tony.

Out total flight time was 10 hours punctuated by a 3 hours stop off in Amsterdam (and a couple of beers).

This building cost 5 billion Yen to build which is approx 500 Million Sterling.  The building next to it burned down last year during the fireworks festival because they had a long dry period prior to the start of the festival.On arriving at Beijing, John, Stuart, Graeme and I had our first (but definitely not last!) falling out!. I mean how hard can it be to work out what the local time would be in the UK. Easy unless you take into consideration that some people adjusted for the time difference in Amsterdam (Yes John you definitely did!), the 7 (or is it 8 Graeme!) hour time difference in China, the GMT adjustment in the UK (yes it is this week Stuart!), throw in couple of beers, Bacardi and a nice little Spanish rioja and you have got carnage!

Checked into hotel and headed straight out for lunch at a local ‘Chinese’ restaurant. We have now all decided not to ask what we are eating until after the meal has finished as it seems to be a subject of debate, even amongst the staff in the restaurant. According to Vicki the Chinese will eat anything that flys apart from Aeroplanes and anything with legs apart from tables! There are not a lot of stray dogs and cats about!

After lunch we headed to Tiananmen Square. The area is steeped in history and is quite clearly a place of respect by all Chinese People. Chairman Mao, despite what history has proven, is revered and his body lies in a massive mausoleum where 10,000 Chinese People visit daily.

The square itself is the size of 16 football pitches and is patrolled and guarded by Chinese Soldiers.

Weather wise, today was quite strange, it went from being bitterly cold to being very warm. The sun was out all day but Beijing is covered in smog which the sun cannot always get through. It is also quite strange to see people walking about with Michael Jackson facemasks on.

Back to Hotel after the square, someone thought it would be a good idea to go the bar in the hotel to get some mixers for the duty free. 4 Cokes and 4 Sprites were the equivalent of £27! This order was quickly cancelled and a prompt visit to the local supermarket for the same order cost £2.50!

A quick change and out for dinner at a local ‘Chinese’ restaurant for our welcome dinner where we were given the itinerary for the rest of the week and had an enjoyable meal which included a birthday celebration for Janice Gallagher. Happy Birthday Janice.

Early night tonight as first trek starts tomorrow.

Cheers from the Guys!!


  Kathleen McCallum

30 March 2009 at 19:44

You men need GPS to get anywhere and now between 4 of you working out the time is made more complicated by unneccesary watch adjustments. Is it control freakery at work by chance? You should have asked a woman if you wanted the right answer. Bet Justine adjusted to China time before she left Glasgow!

Hope your not crossing time zones again on the trip as you lot would probably all be sucked into the twilight zone!

Its the last TAG your adding to your collection McCallum btw.