DAY 33

Week 5

BEIJING (Beijing, CHN)

Tuesday August 8th, 2017

TODAYS MILEAGE – 6 miles or 10 kilometres
TRIP MILEAGE – 32,307 miles or 51,993 kilometres

We agreed to meet in the lobby of the hotel at 7:30 to try and avoid most of the morning rush associated with getting nearly 22 million of the city’s inhabitants to where they need to be - for the start of their respective days. As luck would have it, we started the day of in a similar fashion as yesterday - we waited ... and waited ... and waited.

It only took three phone calls from our CEO (Chief Experience Officer) Lee today, to see Don stepping out the elevator, looking not much better than when I last saw him late yesterday afternoon. I remember thinking to myself that this doesn't look like a good omen for the day.

With our major destination for the day being The Forbidden City, we all walk across the road to the Chongwenmen Metro Station and simply could not get on the next three available trains to the Qianmen Metro Station, due to the overwhelming amount of morning commuters. The two German girls decided to wander off and said they'd meet us at the station - so much for sticking together as a group.

Subscribing to my theory of "the meek shall inherit fuck all", when the next train arrived, I drop my shoulder into Dons back and started pushing him forward while grabbing Lee and Rob, literally dragging them into the carriage with me. There were a few gripes from the locals with my commuter manners, but we were at least on the train.

With Lee guiding us around the ever increasing entry queues, we took in Zhengyang Gate, the exterior of the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong, which was closed for the day, past the Great Hall of the People and into Tiananmen Square proper.

Interestingly enough, when asked about the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 or what is commonly known in mainland China as the "June Fourth Incident", our CEO (Chief Experience Officer) Lee denied any knowledge of it and tried fobbing it off a some "propaganda act" of those having "issues with China". When pressed on it by one of the Germans, Lee became quite testy on the matter.

Upon entering the Forbidden City, Don condition was obviously deteriorating to the point of us stopping, seemingly every 10 minutes, for him "to catch a drink of water" as he called it. In the end, it got that bad that Lee would walk us to the next point of interest, give us the info on the site, instruct us to check the site out a bit further and then walk back to collect Don, only to start the whole process over again.

By the time we got to the Hall of Preserving Harmony, I decided to do my bit in "Preserving Harmony" by going back to collect Don for Lee, who was struggling with the whole ordeal. Don reckons he's good to go and as he goes to get up, he starts stumbling uncontrollably forward, almost pushing a young boy down the 20 odd steps to the level below before I grabbed Don's large unresponsive frame - as he was out like a light.

I check is pulse - racing @ 100mph, breath - slow, shallow & laboured and signs of injury - none, placed him in to the recovery position, before trying to attract some emergency medical team response, all the while keeping the bustling crowd from trampling the pair of us.

I see Lee come charging back with her phone to her ear and arrives to tell me she has called an ambulance and had to wait at the other side of the building for them. We get Don into ambulance and Lee informs us that she must go with him to the hospital and leaves us all with instructions to keep heading up to the North Gate at the top of the complex, where we'll find plenty of taxis and buses for our return. It's a this point the German girls let all and sundry know that they have had enough of Don and his medical issues and simply walk off. Rob and I are both like "oh dear, how sad, never mind" and head off on our own.

Lee was right, when she said that there'd be "buses & taxis" at the North Gate of the Forbidden City, only trouble was that all the bus signs were in Chinese and none of the taxis would stop for any non-Chinese people. In the end, Rob and I managed to talk a local fella into giving us ride back to the hotel in his tuk-tuk ... and as rides go, it was a hell of a theme park ride. Ol' mate took us through back alleys, hotel & office car parks, up footpaths, against traffic on one-way streets and through seemingly gridlocked intersections and I thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience and goes to show that if you don't dwell on the negatives - the positives will far outweigh them. Be Happy

• BEIJING ~ Zhengyang Gate (Beijing, CHN)
• BEIJING ~ Tiananmen Square (Beijing, CHN)
• BEIJING ~ The Forbidden City (Beijing, CHN)
• BEIJING ~ Tuk-Tuk Ride Home (Beijing, CHN)

Day 3 - Beijing
Visit the famous Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City before free time to explore.
Explore the vast expanses of Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. Use free time to shop in the various markets scattered throughout the city, take a tour of the ancient hutongs (alleyways) in Beijing's old city or visit the Tibetan Monastery.
Explore one of the world's largest public squares - Tiananmen Square, home to the Monument to the People's Heroes and the Great Hall of the People.
Our CEO will steer around crowds and help make the most of a visit to the Forbidden City.
With the afternoon being free, set out and explore this capital city.