Monday, March 17, 2008

First Class To The Great Wall

I was supposed to be going to Shanghai but at the last minute a swap I had sent to another crew member was approved and I found that I was finally going to Beijing. When I arrived at the briefing I discovered that one of the First Class crew had just called in sick for the flight. As it was too late to call someone to replace them the purser chose me to work in their place with someone from economy taking mine. Working in First Class was fantastic. As there is never more than 12 passengers (we only had 6 each way) the service is very personal. You really get a chance to speak to each person and find out a lot about them.

Once we arrived at the hotel the purser booked our trip to the Great Wall for the next morning. It was then time to go upstairs, change quickly and then go out shopping. We set off in a group of 6, but as the taxi drivers didn't speak English we couldn't tell them we were together, lost 3 in the traffic. The girls I was with got some handbags and I bought myself a new belt. I didn't need it but the price was so cheap! After 2 hours of shopping we found a fantastic buffet to have dinner in. It also included all the beer you could drink. Later we stumbled back to the hotel to get some sleep before the next day's events.

We met in the lobby at 8am and the receptionist spoke to our minibus driver and gave him instructions in Chinese. After a 1 1/2 hour drive (via McDonalds) we arrived at the Great Wall. It really is amazing when you actually see it. We walked a large section of the wall and then had a fun toboggan ride back down to the bottom. We bought some tacky souvenirs and then jumped back in the bus which took us to the Forbidden City next. It's the area of the city where the Emperor used to live. Tian'anmen Square (the world's largest public square) is across the road from the complex. After walking round for an hour (we really could've spent a whole day there) we went back to the hotel to get some rest before the long flight home.
This great picture is on the wall behind passport control at the airport.
The Silk Market where we got some great bargains.
Debora (Brazil) and Ruby (Philippines) show off their new bags.
The girls taking full advantage of the unlimted beer in the buffet.
The food at the buffet was actually really nice.
The duck in orange sauce was my favourite.
On the way to the Great Wall we went through a few villages and saw the locals going about their daily business.
A map of the area of the Great Wall that we walked along.
Going up to the Great Wall from the car park on the very scary chairlift!
The portion of the Great Wall we walked along. There we sooo many steps!
An arty photo we took near the top. Top-Bottom Miroslava (Slovakia), First Officer David (New Zealand), Eun Jeong (South Korean), Me, Ruby, Tufan (Turkey) and Debora.
Crawling up the last few steps...
... and on the way back down again.
I love translated Chinese signs! Luckily we didn't have any drinking pregnant girls with us so we could all go on the ride!
The track at the start of the taboggan ride.
Tuffan and David chasing me down the hill.
These soldiers were waiting for us when we got to the bottom.
Heading towards Tian'anmen Square from inside the Forbidden City.
The guards of the Forbidden City.
The main gate with a portrait of Mao Zedong (The leader of the People's Republic of China between 1949-1976).
Tian'anmen Square was so big I couldn't get it all in one photo!
The White Dagoba Temple in Beihai Park.
The First Class cabin (on one of our old aircraft) before landing into Dubai.