“Cepat siap, nanti tour tu datang, ha tak sempat!” hubby woke me up and warned me since I always get ready in my own sweet time. (Still put on the mascara even I’m at oversea tau Skin hehehe!)
We finally decided to take the Sacred Way and Great Wall tour from the hotel after a full tiring walk-whole-day in Forbidden City, one day before. After being explained on the program schedule by the tour assistant, we finally agreed to pay since she offered a very nice and reasonable price. Since we already told the reception to inform us when the tour guide came, we stayed in the room.
Knock, knock. “Hi, I cannot call you…your phone ok? Tour guide is here.” She spoke simple English.
“And what’s wrong with our phone?” I walked straight to the phone and tested, no dialing tone. The hotel staff then came inside and tested, still the same. She said nevermind and asked us to come down.
Like tomb raiders, we grabbed our bags and cameras, went down to the lobby and met the tour guide, who I can’t remember her name while blogging this, an early 30s lady with ponytail hair who spoke fluent English with a bit of Chinese slang.
Yeah, for every trip, we usually take at most one paid tour, to compare the different feeling of “group tour” with “free and easy”. Like Saigon, Hanoi, Samui and other tour package that we took, Beijing also did not excluded. This time, we took a tour package to Ming Tomb (Sacred Way) and Great Wall. (If we go by ourselves, I tell you, I die walking… come to my funeral and recite yassin and eat bubur kacang la hor?)
The bus picked us up at the end of the “hutong” (alley) and we started our journey to the first World Cultural Heritage by the UNESCO, The Ming Tombs. But we couldn’t get too excited, for we were not visiting the 13 Tombs. Instead, we were only walking along the 2 km Sacred Way, heading towards the pavilion of the divine merit stele. We hopped into the bus, and there were 4-5 tourists already in it. Unlike tour in a small group like what we had in other SEA countries, this time no one said “Hiiii…” when we got onboard.
We sat next to each other and camwhoring. Since the bus still not fully occupied, we knew that we still waiting for other group members. One hotel after another, the bus at last almost occupied (one Spanish lady cancelled due to stomachache).
We started our journey by listening to the tour guide on the arranged itinerary, what we will be doing that day and how long each stop will be.
“You are SMART because you have chosen a Package C, Mutianyu Great Wall and Sacred Way, because it is in fact, famous among locals, not tourist. And you are smarter than others to go on Tuesday, for the locals are working. This means, less visitors. The Mutianyu Great Wall IS YOURS!” said the tourist guide.
In the meantime, the bus were heading outskirt, leaving Beijing city behind. The tour guide was very well equipped with knowledge on China history and she was very well spoken. Everyone was listening and laughing to her stories and jokes, except for one Korean couple who were asleep…I bet, if they were awake, they didn’t understand even a word, I must say…hahahaha!
The journey to Ming Tomb took an hour. Unlike (again) other tour companies that we’ve hired, this company didn’t provide drinking water for free. But still, they charged the same price-lah, RMB2 per bottle. Lucky, we brought our own big bottle that we bought from Kedai Ah So (Fair Price Market, in front of our hotel) the night before.
Almost everyone (Australian, Hongkie, Dutch, Korean, European) still sleeping and dreaming on the bus(it was 8.30 in the morning), except for me and the Spanish girls…I guessed hubby and the French too. The tour guide then woke everyone up and told us to hop down by the roadside, and the bus will wait us at the other end of the road. The environment was quiet and gloomy. Ah…peaceful…
Coz no locals! Hahaha!
At the entrance gate, the tour guide straight away asked us to enter, because the package has included the entrance fee. Good! Hassle free. (Argh, I wish I had this at Forbidden City…) From the North Gate, we had to walk about 50 meters to reach the main gate, Longfeng Gate.
Along the way, we constantly became the last two group members who left behind. The reason being was we were too excited to take pictures with all the human and animal figures, not to forget, the two un-imaginary mythological creatures, xiezhi and qilin, standing and sitting in line on both sides of the famous Spirit Way or also known as Divine Road. We knew that we were incomparable with the larger than life size statues, but we did try our best to act, stand, hug and kiss them, in order to get nice pictures.
There was one stop where they displayed the Ming Tombs history and how it looked like in ancient days. Hubby entered the exhibition hall alone and he came back with photos and stories for me. In total, there were 13 emperor’s mausoleums, 7 tombs for concubines and 1 grave for eunuchs.
It only took us half an hour to complete the whole Sacred Way. We stopped at the pavilion with one huge tortoise stone that carries one tall rectangular tablet stone with Chinese characters written on it. Since we couldn’t read Chinese, hence, the tour guide told us that the tablet did mention about how to build and rebuild the complex. She also added a tale that two Emperor’s worker who went to Japan to find a cure for the Royal Highness, did not dare to return back to China when they couldn’t find one, afraid of being killed by the Emperor.
Before the pavilion, there were two posts of ornamental columns and we managed to snap our couple-picture, using the auto-timer setting. The background was superb, complete with super green grass and stunning trees.
“Jap, jap, I letak camera atas pokok ni, kita amik gambar berdua.” Yeah, we never trust people to take our photo…either no head, or no feet. Hahaha!
The tour guide then called up everyone to proceed to the bus, to continue to another destination in list. 20 minutes later, we stopped by for lunch at one huge Chinese Restaurant that we were kind off being ‘forced’ to see and enjoy the beauty of Jade, before we filled our stomach with “mi fan” (rice).
“Ah, this is THE catch that everyone was telling over the Internet huh?” we whispered.
A guide who was assigned to bring us around was quite fluent in English. We managed to cope with what she was telling us, especially on the jadeite colors, composition, shape, and the most unbelievable and absurd matter, the price of the jadeite.
“Gosh! We really can’t afford to have one!” We almost had our eyes popped out when we saw the price tag.
There were two elderly guys in a glass room, who we assumed the most experience-first-class jade sculptor. We saw no yuppies there, I believed, no youngsters want to learn this ancient profession. On the other side of the hall, a young man was in full concentration to finish his masterpiece. He was in the midst of coloring a piece of wooden-made image of the Great Wall. Amazing! At least, one talented young man still interested in doing that.
“You don’t want to buy anything?” the tour guide asked us. “Nah…”
“What year you born?” she continued provoking. “1978…the year of horse…BOTH…” we answered before she asked hubby pulak.
“Owh good…you can actually get a pendant of a horse over that side…” “Hehehe…it’s ok…” I stopped her and we walked off from her. Crazy…you guys know how much was the pendant? And do you guys know that they only sell original jadeite, not those fake one that we can easily found at accessories rack? You think I’m gonna buy it?
We walked to the back section where they sell series of artworks called "sand painting". The pictures were marvelous! Complete with color toning and such. And who behind it? A very ordinary yet talented young man who wasn't distracted at all when visitors surrounded him and watched him closely.
An hour later (see how wasted a package tour can be), we were called by the tour guide into a dining room, where we were then served with ten dishes of fish, vegetables, soup, and meats.
“Vegetarian?” the tour guide asked while raising her hand. We then raised our hand, followed by one Spanish girl who almost seemed to puke looking at the oily uncooked reddish fish. Haha! Since we are Muslim, we chose to eat only the vegetable servings lah. And again, no free drinks, you have to buy if you want too. We bought one big bottle outside the restaurant and it was way cheaper than what they charged. As the food, it was quite salty…but who cares…not having any bowl of “mi fan” (rice) in four days, made us not looking left and right, and ngap!