Beijing, or as Kublai Khan named it, Cambaluc, is our final destination and there are a few significant sites for us to cover off before packing and shipping the bikes and winging our way home.
Firstly there is of course the ‘great’ part of the Great Wall – that part which has been fully restored, which crawls its way atop the bush clad rideges of the mountains just nort of Beijing and which all the tourists have as a ‘must see’ on a visit to this huge, modernised metropolis. We drove the bikes to its bases – afterall we have traversed the wall from west to east – and next morning at dawn got up on to it before the hordes arrived (tourists this time, not Mongolian) and the smog ruined the vistas totally. Very nice.
Next there was the wall of Kublai Khan’s winter palace in the city itself. Not much left of this but what there is is now protected so worth standing on. Also still making it through to 2005 are the Hutong or narrow streets of old Beijing that Genghis set up after demolishing the place during his conquest. But the Hutong are rapidly disappearing in clouds of dust as demolition makes way for wider streets and expressways.
Finally where we virtually started in Venice; the Marco Polo Bridge (in Beijing this time) described in his book because of the 500 statues of lions that span it. Well worth a walk over and for us anyway providing a sense of completeness. The bridge is also very significant to the Chinese as it was on the south side of this that the Japanese invaders in 1931 launched their final assault on Beijing.
Pictures of all these visits are in the album, The Great Wall and Beijing
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