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We met our tour group: a motley assortment of people from Britain, Ireland, New Zealand, and Australia. I guess we're the token Americans. This is a "budget" tour, that means we get an Australian guide who doesn't speak Chinese. Hmmm. Since it's too late to back out, we follow our Australian guide, Bruce, to the Great Wall and find it without a hitch. No great accomplishment since the Wall is thousands of miles long and would be hard to miss. Nonetheless, we gained confidence in Bruce's guiding skills. As for the Great Wall, we're not experts, but we could tell it's not just another wall.  That evening, Bruce led us through the Beijing backstreets to find a little-known restaurant. In the tight and twisting alleyways, Bruce had us lost in under five minutes. We wander past a lot of barber shops (fronts for brothels), open markets, and neighborhood bathrooms (some neighborhoods, hutongs, have communal bathrooms -- scary places) before getting directions from an amused shopkeeper. In defense of Bruce's restaurant-finding ability, I admit this restaurant was tucked in a dark alleyway. I could see why the place was little-known since no tourist would ever go inside unless at gunpoint because of its grimy exterior. However, the chef cooked excellent food.
 (Above) Jill on the Great Wall. (Below) Jill on an average wall.