Our intrepid group of Trekkers have begun the inaugural Trek for Hope 2014! Fundraising Officer Hannah is accompanying the trek - here's the first update from the Great Wall of China! Warning, these photos may induce the need to travel for charity!
"After a 9 hr flight and a very thorough immigration check, we all piled onto our bus for the week with driver Mr Young, guides, Jo from CC and local guides Michael and Tony. After a quick stop at a local restaurant for our first taste of proper Chinese food we were driven to our first lodge Juyongguan Hotel to settle in and then do a 'warm up walk'...A prospect not hugely appealing having just stepped off a 9 hr flight with little sleep. However once on the wall, all the jet lag disappeared as we climbed a beautifully restored section of the wall popular with the local Chinese. We discovered at this point that being westerners (and, in particular, blonde westerners) was highly unusual and we became tourist attractions ourselves, having our photo taken by lots of very excited Chinese tourists.
We returned to our lodge after around an hours walk for an emotional dinner, all thoroughly excited for bed.
At 6:30am we all got a wake up call for 7am breakfast...no full English here as breakfast consisted of boiled eggs, rice, lettuce and thankfully plenty of toast. Time to stock up on what we could, as we had a full five hours of trekking ahead of us.
Hopping back onto our coach for a short trip to Badaling, Michael our fantastic lead guide, gave a quick Chinese lesson and then a brief history of the how the wall came to be before we arrived at the ancient wall.
We began trekking at 9am on a section of the wall which despite being restored was very steep and with challenging climbs. Slowly we ascended too 800 above sea level, the highest point this week. The climb became harder the higher we got as the wall was very overgrown and sections were crumbling away either side of us. Reaching the top we were rewarded with stunning views of the surrounding countryside, with the wall snaking off for miles into the distance.
The descent down again was precarious at times, and it often felt better just to slide down on your bum, much to the amusement of the group. After five hours trekking we had completed our trek for the day, but not before were stumbled across a man who we can only assume was the David Attenborough of China filming a documentary about the restoration of the wall. In the process we all inadvertently became stars (we assume) of the show and learned about a rock that ancient warriors on the wall would fill with gun powder and throw at approaching enemies.
With day 1 over we stopped at a local restaurant for a delicious and well earned lunch before heading to our second home for the night, impressions lodge, a quaint family run business with a courtyard, bonfire and (at the time of writing) The Beatles blasting from the stereo.
All in all day 1 has been fantastic, we've had one birthday (Happy Birthday Louise!), some not so discreet toilet trips and become walk on stars on a Chinese Tv show...Roll on day 2 where we take on the Black Dragon Pools...maybe we will run into the Chinese Brad Pitt next.
Think you want to be part of Trek for Hope 2015? What are you waiting for - sign up today!