I can’t believe it’s been one month since I arrived home from Japan and China. I went camping for the first-line since the Jamboree this weekend, it bought back lots of memories of my summer especially as I met up with other leaders who also attended the Jamboree. Beavers, Cubs. scouts, Explorers and leaders from every group in the County came along and had a great time together and the weather was very kind.d to us as well. The only downside is that I ache everywhere Im on a course today and already struggling to stay awake.
I’m really glad I didn’t go straight home after my time away, my body clock is still all over the place and I have developed a cold. It was great to spend the weekend with Kirstie and I’m grateful for her help in trying to keep me awake. It was nice to be able to use a western toilet, eat western food with a knife and fork and to trust the UK traffic to stop at a red light. However it’s going to take time to acclimatise to the weather, the air conditioning on the tour bus in Beijing was a comfortable 22 degrees, yet the temperature in the UK is struggling to reach above 18 degrees.
Today I returned to work for the first time in what feels like forever. I have not attempted to log onto the computer yet as I’m struggling to remember my log in, that is a challenge for tomorrow.
I hope that you have enjoyed reading my blog and following my adventures in Japan and China, this is my last blog until my next adventure, whatever that might be ……….
Today was always going to be a very long day and the haze of smog and humidity didn’t help. Our first stop of the day was to the summer palace,some local people were painting with giant sponges.
It was a great idea of recycling with old bottles and broom handles used to make the giant brushes.
The palace was surrounded by beautifully kept gardens, even the stonework was decorative.
The palace was surrounded by a huge lake, we had a trip across the lake on a dragon boat. Unfortunately the view was not great because of the smog, but it was nice to get a different view of the palace.
After lunch we visited our last destination, the temple of heaven. Groups of people were singing, dancing and practising Tai-Chi in the gardens around the temple. We were given free time to explore the temple which was nice. The vie from the temple was not great, but you could see the gardens below and the surrounding area.
We then returned to the hotel to freshen up and finish packing before dinner. At 8:30pm we set off for the airport, the flight out of Beijing took off on time at 00:20 on Friday 16th August, the flight was quite choppy with turbulence, but we arrived in Abu Dhabi with an hour before the gate opened for our second flight. Although it was not the best time to eat a Burger King, I have to admit to enjoying the burger and chips.
We landed back at Heathrow slightly earlier than estimated which was great news for all of us who had to dash for buses and trains. I arrived with Kirstie just after 3:30pm or 10:30pm Beijing time on Friday 16th August.
Today was a special day as we travelled to the great wall of China. We started at tower 14 and most of us walked to tower 6 in order to ride down the toboggan run. The wall was awesome, the views were magnificent as it towered above the trees.
The wall was very uneven with a combination of large and small steps next to each other and slopes going up as well as down. There was very little shade and as the temperature rose above 32 degrees it made the trek more challenging.
However on reaching the entrance of the toboggan it was all worth it. The toboggan run was amazing, it seemed to go on forever and everyone was buzzing as they came off the ride.
We had lunch above a Jade factory, we were given a tour of the factory after lunch with details of how to distinguish between real and fake Jade.
Some of the jewellery was exquisite, but it was also very expensive. The variety of different colours surprised me, I enjoyed looking at all the different designs and shapes that could be made out of this precious stone.
We then had a very brief stop at the bird nest stadium to take some photographs before we headed off to a unique shopping mall. Our tour guide gave some very useful advise before we went shopping as all the retailers expected customers to haggle for a better price. We were told to aim for between 30 and 50% their opening bid. I found the experience very uncomfortable, you couldn’t even stand in a doorway and look in without the shop keeper grabbing your arm and asking what you were looking for. I didn’t enjoy haggling and the aggressive nature of some on the some assistance was quite scary.
Today started with a trip to see the National theatre, unfortunately it was closed, but we got to see the outside
We them walked to Tienanmen Square, I never realised it was a big as it was, 44 hectares in total, we had a look around before having a group photo. We then went to the national museum and saw some historical artefacts of China. We then went to a restaurant for lunch.
In the afternoon we visited the Forbidden City. It was larger than I expected, the detail in the stone bridges over the river were very impressive. In the distance we could see the pagoda that we have visited the previous day. The site reminded me of the film Mulan.
We hen headed of to have a ride in a pedicar which is a cycle driven cart similar to a rickshaw. We rode through the streets of Huntong Alley which is the old part of Beijing. The streets were very narrow and it was slightly concerning when they started racing.
We visited a house in the alley, it was very humbling to find they don’t have a toilet or bathroom and they have to use local conveniences. The house was one storey with a tiny courtyard. The walls had a number of family photographs which were obviously treasured.
A visit to China would not be complete without visiting a traditional tea ceremony. The group were treated to six different types of tea with instructions on how to prepare and drink each one. I didn’t try the tea, but I enjoyed the experience.
After dinner we walked into town in order to experience the traditional street market. It reminded me of Camden to a certain extent, by the smell was very overpowering. Some of the delights on offer were stomach churning, especially the scorpions who were still wriggling on a stick before being deep fried. We were advised not to try the local delicacies and to be honest I wouldn’t have wanted to either.
￼We arrived at the hotel in the early hours of Monday morning. ￼ It was lovely to be able to open a proper door, have a shower without worrying about sweating the minute you tried to put any clothes on and to sleep in a proper bed.
We were treated to a lie in before the breakfast buffet. It was then time to head off to the Yonghegong temple. This is a Buddhist temple which is visited by many locals who come to prey to the budda. The smell of incense was very overpowering, but the artwork was beautiful.
￼ We then visited Confusious temple. Outside there was a man sat in an old style rickshaw which was being pulled along by a malarial man. He was very funny and whilst he was happy for people to look, if you tried to take a photograph, he would hold up a sign which read “photo 5 yeun”.
We then visited Jingoism Park and climbed the steep stairs to the pagoda at the top. The views were amazing, you could see the Forbidden City.
We then headed of to a silk factory where we’re learned how silk was extracted and separated by hand, it was very soft and delicate and the finished items were exquisite, but also rather expensive.
We then headed off to the Bianyifang restaurant for a traditional Pekingese duck meal. It was lovely, the variety of dishes on offer was amazing and the taste and smell was a novelty after the food on offer at the Jamboree.
I would like to begin by apologising for not posting on my blog recently, however this was beyond my control as on Sunday 9th August I travelled from Japan to China. I was aware that China did not allow Facebook, however I did not realise how strict their controls on the internet was. As a result of this I have not been able to update everyone on my adventures in China, but now I’m home I will be able to fill in the gaps of the last week.
It all started on Saturday 8th August as all members of the Jamboreee’s IST team were treated to their very own closing ceremony.
The Scottish dancer and the Irish leaders were the highlight of the evening and the festivities concluded with a rendition of old lang syne.
We were all asked to pack our kit up as we had an early start on Sunday which meant that we had no-where to sleep. Fortunately our kit bags were stored in a safe place over night, so all I had to do was find somewhere to try and get some sleep with my day bag. I eventually decided to sit on the car park by a generator
We were all up early on the Sunday morning in order to catch the bus to the airport. 198 leaders were making the journey to Beijing for a well earned holiday. However the 11 hour bus journey was not much fun, especially as we had to stop every two hours in order to change drivers.
We arrived at the airport in plenty of time for check in and had to wait for the gate to open. The flight itself was fairly calm and we managed to land just before midnight which was earlier than expected.