The Road to Everest

Great Tour of China Day 1
Apr 26, 2006,

Wednesday 26 April 2006
Beijing to Datong

We set out from the Kunlun Hotel at 6.45am, making our way to the Great Wall at Jyungguan, about 60km out of the city centre. The Wall was created between 221-210 BC by the first Emporer Qin Shi Huangdi. Fittingly, it was here that we celebrated the start of the Great Tour of China 2006.
Chinese Dogs at the start ceremony

Everyone managed to climb up a section of the vast, sprawling wall, which scales high up into the surrounding countryside. From there, the view was indeed spectacular and well worth the exercise.

At 8.30am and back at the foot of the wall, we were treated to a traditional Ceremonial Start, complete with dancing dragons, beautiful Chinese stage dogs and acrobats. We also had a special martial arts display ¨C replete with kung fu and flying daggers.

At 9.00am, John Brown flagged us all off and we made our way north on the Expressway towards Xiahua and through Badaling, where we saw more wonderful views of the Great Wall. At Xiahua we left the Expressway and headed through Zhoulu, a coal mining centre, which was indeed very industrial and quite dirty from all the soot deposited in the area. We then meandered through the countryside to our suggested lunch halt in Weixian, where we all enjoyed a traditionally presented hotpot.
Dragons at the start ceremony

After lunch came the highlight of our day ¨C the Hanging Monastery. This was incredible! The monastery dates from the Qing dynasty and was built high up on the cliff wall to avoid the floodwater from the Hang River, which had constantly washed away previous temples and buildings. It was a real eye-opener for those with a slight fear of heights ¨C but definitely worth every nervous moment as we walked around the temple, which looms precariously over the valley, built into the bare stone face of its walls.

Tumblers at the start ceremony
Leaving the Hanging Monastery behind, we traveled a quick 70km to our overnight halt in Datong. Previously an Imperial capital, Datong is today undergoing heavy industrialisation, but is also rapidly becoming a lively location thanks to the endeavours of the local authorities.

A great start to the event!

Arnold Meier at the start at the foot of the Great Wall

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Day 30: Thursday 25 May 2006
Zhaoqing – Splendid China, Shenzhen

On this our final day of the Great Tour of China 2006, we made a short journey mainly on expressway from Zhaoqing to the Splendid China Cultural Park in Shenzhen for the ceremonial finish.

May 26, 2006
Day 29: Wednesday 24 May 2006
Guilin - Zhaoqing

We left Gulin on smooth fast roads with wonderful views of the ‘eggbox’ type hills. These are hills of limestone which have eroded into shape over centuries covered in native vegetation and resembling very large teeth.

May 25, 2006
Day 28: Tuesday 23 May 2006
Kaili - Guilin

The agenda today was another long driving day to Guilin along a mixture of road surfaces: smooth main roads, bumpy secondary roads and some roads still under construction.

May 24, 2006
Day 27: Monday 22 May 2006
Huangguoshu Falls - Kaili

Before negotiating another day on the road, everyone spent a couple of hours today visiting China’s most scenic falls at Huangguoshu. Set against lush, local vegetation, the falls make up in beauty for what they lack in size.

May 23, 2006
Day 26: Sunday 21 May 2006
Kunming – Huangguoshu Falls

This morning we took the northern road from Kunming on a mix of main highway, dual carriageway and back roads. The first town we passed through was Quiyang en route to Honggu, a large town with coal mining and steel production as it’s main industries.

May 23, 2006