The teachers’ “day off” had been postponed from Thursday to Friday, because the weather forecast looked better. You can, of course, guess what happened…
But the transport was already booked, and a lot of people still wanted to see the sights anyway (despite some having a little trouble focussing due to the previous night’s overindulgence), so we all traipsed on to the coach and set off for the First Pass Under Heaven, the easternmost gate of the Great Wall (not to be confused with the First and Greatest Pass Under Heaven, which is obviously at the other end of the Wall).
I don’t think we took the most direct route, as it seemed to take much longer than expected, but we did see some interesting sights along the way (through the rain-blurred windows of the coach).
When we got there, it soon became obvious that brightly-coloured raincoats, accessorised with umbrellas, where the in-thing this season:
… although the local wildlife went for the transparent poncho look:
Much of the wall at this point seems to have been rebuilt (or perhaps just regularly maintained) and is in very good condition:
… but the same can’t be said of the local residences, literally within the shadow of the wall:
After we’d managed to round everybody up, with a slight delay while some locals had their photos taken with these exotic Westerners on the steps of our bus, we set off for the Old Dragon’s Head, the point where the eastern end of the Wall meets the sea.
By this time, the rain was getting increasingly heavy and tempers were getting shorter, so the Old Dragon’s Head didn’t get all the attention it deserved, especially when battling through a sea of umbrellas being carried exactly at eye height.
I did manage to make a new friend though, and he certainly didn’t seem to be bothered by the weather.