22nd JULY 2018 – DAY 5
Sweat in China is different from any other sweat on earth. Confronted with the idea of 34 – 37 degree heat, before stepping outside you anticipate a bit of moisture and the accompanying feeling of discomfort. What you do not realise is that stepping outside in Chinese July is like stepping into an oven, then (paradoxically) swimming through the oven’s insides as you attempt to walk through a haze of humidity. Moistness is not just on your skin: it’s it’s all around you, most easily compared to spending your whole day in a sauna. Day 5 was Day Of The Sweat, and boy, did we know it.
Day 5, it should be mentioned, was also the Great Wall Of China day (the coalescence of these two days – of sweat and of wall – was no coincidence). While we were all pleasantly surprised that, an hour outside of Beijing the air was clearer and breezy, this relief did not last long. The Great Wall is not your average wall. It’s really very steep. The steps are uneven – treacherous, in fact. Some are over a foot deep and make your calves wobble with effort and your quads ache in toil. Despite the breeze, the sweat was ubiquitous. We gasped for air with each step, pushing for the next plateau or viewing point where we could rehydrate and take some pictures (no selfies of course, as we all looked our very worst).
I might add here that some of our number were slightly on the hungover side of things, having enjoyed ourselves after our concert the previous evening. For these silly few the calf wobbles and sweat drips were combined with other feelings of slight regret. Reader, I was one of them. And it’s a credit to the majesty of the thing that, through humidity and hangovers, we all found the place utterly marvellous. To have walked on such an old piece of humanity’s history, to have soaked up the greenness of the mountains and the bluey-greyness of the sky, was a joy, and a real highlight of the trip so far. Pictures might do this describing job better than me, so here are a few –
The Wall visit was followed by a visit to the Ming Tombs, then a rest at the hotel before a concert, shared with the Israeli choir mentioned in the Day 3 blog. I’ll leave out an analysis of the concert, as I’m an alto and we managed to make a mistake on our first note of the show (A natural, an unexpected nemesis). But the rest went without hitch and was great fun – the crowd loved it. We had pictures with the Israeli choir, and ate pizza for dinner – a real treat after our rice overdose of the preceding days. Credit must go to our tour guide, Glenn, for organising this, and for diligently photographing the concert for us!
Written by Beth Potter