Arriving in Beijing, we were struck by the heat and the sunshine. A shock to our Scottish systems…

After a painless flight, an easy stroll through immigration, it was on to collect our bags before liaising with the first of our guides, the ever smiling Harry.

En route to our hotel, the grandly named “Auspicious Business Hotel”, Harry explained that we’re entering into an extended holiday period here in China. From 1st October it’s Mid-Autumn Festival where everyone takes 7 days off work. And everyone tries to either get home to see their parents. If they can’t get home, they call home. Family is very important to the Chinese.

And for most of us, that was on the agenda too, a fact witnessed later that afternoon, evidenced by the clusters of pasty Scots huddled in groups in the hotel foyer, calling home.

Harry related a Chinese joke.

How do you get an elephant into an ice box?

Three steps.

1. Open the icebox
2. Put the elephant in
3. Close the icebox

He said this reflects the Chinese mentality of getting the job done, not focusing on the problems.

And when you think of the engineering feet that is the Great Wall of china, it’s hard to argue with this sensibility.

For most of us, as we wound our way through the busy streets north of Beijing, it’s a mind set we’ll be adopting as our own as we face the physical, mental and emotional challenges of trekking the Great Wall as fund raisers for St Andrew’s Hospice.