In contrast to the tour to the Great Wall and Ming Tombs the day before this was a fantastic tour. As with the previous day my wife and I were the only ones on the tour. The tour was comfortably paced for us. Tiamanmen Square was busy due to being the Mid-Autumn Festival. It was unfortunate that it was raining as we walked through the Forbidden City, however our guide (Cherry - if that is her real name) took us along the right side away from the masses and slightly higher than the main throng of visitors. She regularly pointed out photo opportunities.
Getting back to the coach it was onto the Silk Factory. Although there was an opportunity to buy, there was no sign of any high pressure sales.
Onto the Heavenly Temple and the rain had stopped. Again our guide provided us with excellent information and provided us with time to have a look by ourselves. Before lunch it was on the Pearl Factory. Getting a theme here? Yes - we were shown how fresh water pearls are cultured and farmed, but it was followed by a purchase opportunity, but as with the Silk Factory no high pressure sales techniques used.
Lunch was at a restaurant as was good quality and quantity. And onto the Summer Palace. By now the sun had come out. The Summer Palace was busy, again because of the Mid-Autumn Festival. We walked to the Marble Ship, before coming back on the Dragon Boat (you will have to pay extra, but well worth it).
Would I recommend it - most definitely. We were not subject to high sales pressure at the Silk or Pearl Factories. Cherry was a great guide.
As I staying at an airport hotel, collection was on time at 07:30 at the agreed city centre hotel.
Surprisingly I was the only person booked the tour, so it meant I had a personalised tour. This did mean that when I was ready we moved on and there was no waiting for stragglers.
The Ming Tombs were quiet as it was early in the morning. By the time we were heading to the Great Wall traffic was heavy, especially as it was a Chinese Holiday weekend (Dragon Boat holiday).
The section of the Great Wall visited was not at Badaling, but at Juyongguan. I guess it was quieter, but is was still busy. This section of the wall is narrow and passing those going the other way is not always easy.
Next stop was the Jade factory for a tour and lunch. Beware, there is heavy pressure to buy and the items are not cheap. As I was on my own the tour guide and the hot from the Jade factory was always close by. Lunch was more than satisfactory in quantity, however only one (small) glass of soft drink was included. I opted to buy a bottle of Sprite.
The final stop of the tour was the tea house, close to the Bird's Nest Olympic Stadium. The host only had myself to demonstrate to, and as soon as it was over it was to the shop to entice me to buy.
From there it was to a drop off point. I elected to be dropped off close to the Airport Express terminus.
I have been on many tours before in various parts of the world, however this time, probably because I was on my own I found the pressure to buy overly oppressive.
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