Jimmy guided us to the Great Wall (GW), Tian An Men Square (TAMS), and the Forbidden City (FC).
We, in some masochistic way, just had to visit these places in summer. Well, we decided on a guided tour to get the best out of each attraction with as little time travelling, bumbling around and wasting of time, as possible. Indeed Jimmy from Private Day Tour, knew his stuff. He actually suggested to set off 1/2 hour earlier to beat the heat as well as the crowds. We followed his idea, turned in earlier the night before, met him at 7am. The road trip to the GW was fairly easy, and at the GW, we got onto the ski lift very quickly. We were on the wall, and walked for about 500m or so as Jimmy shared snippets of its history, construction and description. We were under no pressure to walk long distances as he allowed us to rest when we wanted, particularly at the mid-wall battlements in which the shade created a wind tunnel effect, which really helped.
He next brought us to a local local Beijing noodle restaurant, complete with antique furniture and florescent lighting for our lunch. The lunch was filling and a welcome break. Beijingers eat huge bowls of everything!
We next took a short ride to TAMS, which would lead to the FC.
TAMS is a gigantic heat sink. No trees. No shade. Nothing to provide any protection from the harsh summer sun. Jimmy did warn us to bring our sunnies, hats and insisted on hand carrying large bottles of water. Again Jimmy was full of information about the well known site and the buildings surrounding it.
To us the highlight was the FC. Jimmy tied in the tour with frequent references to Bertolucci's The Last Emperor which made the visit more personal and meaningful as we recognised many of the structures and rooms, which were used in the filming. Of course there was a significance because each location had a purpose to it, eg, the Throne Room in which the Empress Dowager met Puyi for the first time, the various terraces where the young boy Emperor played, and the private quarters of the Empress Dowager.
The FC is huge, and the large open spaces, again, treeless. Again, Jimmy did not push us beyond what we could bear in terms of pace. We rested when we needed, for as long as we needed.
There was never a dull moment with Jimmy.
We had no regrets booking the tour and Jimmy made the trip worth while. He understood and made adjustments to our needs, in particular, in the heat of summer, and we can honestly say that our day was very well spent.Re