We all met, including reps from CRUK and Kuoni (the second group joined us in China) and a doctor who volunteered his services, at Heathrow airport ready for a nine hour direct flight to Beijing (this means Northern Capital).
On arrival, we were joined by our Chinese guides Steven HAO, Xing who spoke excellent English and Sacha (I never did quite catch her Chinese name!) who is still learning, and a Chinese doctor. Once we were installed in our lodge we had a briefing for the next day's hike and what we could expect over the following five days.
No amount of training can prepare you for walking on the Great Wall.
It is easier (that's relative!) the fitter you are is all I can say.
I can only liken a typical day's walk to climbing up Galatzo 5 times in a row STRENUOUS is the word.
By the end of the day you have used every muscle in your body but once you've done it what a wonderful sense of achievement.
The landscape is very much like Majorca and the weather was perfect for hiking but almost always overcast, and not a drop of rain while we were walking. Unfortunately, they even have the procesionaria caterpillar or something very similar! At the end of a hard day's walking we would relax in the courtyard and congratulate ourselves with a couple of well deserved beers! In fact, they were our carrots! If anyone was flagging we just had to remind them of that wonderful cold beer and they got a second wind! We walked mainly on parts of the wall that were not on the tourist trail so we got to see the real China and life in rural villages. We had all taken school materials and little toys to give to the children. What a humbling experience to see that so little can cause such joy. The best of all though, were the Polaroid photos the doctor took of the children - they had never seen themselves before. My next expedition will be to help build a school in the Brazilian jungle in aid of the Bobby Moore Fund (he died of bowel cancer at a young age) which is associated with Cancer Research UK. To finish, I would like to thank everyone who helped support Cancer Research UK last year, especially Julie and Dino from Bar Hollywoods in Magalluf who tirelessly organised several parties the next of which is on Saturday 19th May 2007. We raised 853 euros this year just 40 euros less than last year!
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