I never expected to title a blog post written in China after my favourite film, The Italian Job, but if you remember the last scene... then you will soon figure out why I have done!
The mist cleared up, finally. So I took a lot of photos. So many, infact, that I was the last person to finish the trek on the fourth day (along with Sarah who was struggling with the seemingly-infinite staircase). All of the wall was 'new wall' which means that, although it was about 500 years old, it was not falling down. This was the same part of the wall as the day before but we walked for a lot longer, through 15 watchtowers. At one point our 'slow' group took a 'shortcut' to avoid some steep steps.. I am glad I went with them as we went through a jungly area that had some shade and phenomenal views. Though let's face it... since the skies were blue, everywhere had phenomenal views!
It was a longish walk but fairly easy since it was new wall... the story of the day was the drive back.
We took the bus and went for quite a long drive. Everything was going fine, we were all asleep I think, until we got to a quarry. Going through the village where the workers live was very bumpy and woke everyone up. We then started going around some very thin windy roads, on the side of the quarry... we were literally driving next to machines that were quarrying. Everything seemed fine though, until we got a puncture. I didn't see the tire but it must have been pierced by metal or one of the very sharp rocks. Normally we would just change the tire, but of course this was China... we did not have a spare.
So instead of calling the AA or anything, our driver - Mister Ma - moved everybody from the left of the bus to the right. And carried on driving!!! Driving through a very dangerous road, similar to those that Top Gear like to drive fast cars on in Italy, with everybody on the same side of the bus due to the punctured tire. Slightly worrying, but also hilarious.
Remember, this was a quarry. I don't know whether Mister Ma knew what was around the corner or whether we were very lucky but after 5 minutes of driving we found a tire shop (a tire shop in the middle of nowhere!!!) which must have been used for the quarry's trucks. Eventually they managed to change the tire and we were off.
Until we got stuck. Our long bus got stuck trying to get around a very sharp chicane. We all felt like we were in the Italian Job, minus the gold. Luckily we were not hanging off the cliff, just stuck extremely close to it! Eventually Mister Ma managed an insane feat of driving and got us unstuck and still alive.
We were glad to finish the bus journey about an hour or so later.
That night was the first we spent in a town so explored. We found a very colourful plaza with lots of people dancing and singing. We also found what I think is probably the best thing in the world... go kart things that were dressed up as other things... hard to explain but Tom and I ended up driving a dragon around the plaza (which was massive) for ages. Definitely a nice way to explore and watch the dancers without our feet getting tired! The photos are quite good, will post when home.