At this point, the team split up because the trip to the Great Wall of China was next. Coach Spoelstra only made the trip mandatory to players who had never seen it because so many of the Heat's players had visited the Wall many times before.
That meant no LeBron, Wade or Chris Bosh, but plenty did take the long trek to see one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
The group included Ray Allen, Mike Miller, James Jones and Mario Chalmers. The team provided three buses to make the 90-minute journey to the Wall's location in Beijing and many family members came along for the ride.
Honestly, while the entourage was pretty tired at the conclusion of the bus ride, everyone caught their second wind when we saw the Wall for the first time.
Simply put, it was awe inspiring.
It's one thing to see the Great Wall in pictures, but to see it in person is almost impossible to describe.
Even a veteran like Allen, who's seen just about everything during his NBA career, was acting like a little kid while walking up the Wall.
We all took cable cars to the top of the mountain where the Wall loops around. The views are not only spectacular, but absolutely breathtaking.
The one word I kept hearing from players as they walked by was "wow!"
It's a simple but perfect way to sum up what we were seeing. Their were a lot of touching moments with family members of the players taking pictures and walking along the path.
Probably the most touching was seeing Norris Cole and his parents smiling ear to ear at spending time together. As Cole's mom told me, it was difficult to describe the pure emotion of it all.
You'll probably never guess who was the last person down from the Heat's group. It was Coach Spoesltra. Despite seeing this location a number of times over the years, the coach walked all the way to the top of the steps and back two times. He was really letting it sink in.
Eventually, we made our way back down and loaded the buses again. I think it's safe to say, it's a day we'll never forget.
The only negative of the day was the drive home. I don't think you know the real definition of rush hour traffic until you drive through the highways around Beijing at 6 pm. We all sat in the buses for over two hours in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
In the end, we got home safe to our hotels and everyone was ready for a nice meal and great nights sleep.
Another adventurous day awaits in just a few hours. Good night from Beijing.
OCTOBER 8 - 11:09 PM (11:09 AM BEIJING)
OCTOBER 8 - 2:10 PM (2:10 AM BEIJING)
OCTOBER 8 - 10:30 AM (10:30 PM BEIJING) - We've arrived safely in Beijing after a 14 hour flight. It's the longest flight I've ever taken, but believe it or not, it wasn't that bad.
Erik Spoesltra and many of the players had given me advice on how to deal with the boredom that could come during such a lengthy flight. These guys are pros at it.
Coach Spoelstra has been traveling to Asia every summer for years, while this is the 10th time in China for LeBron. Each said to read some books, watch some movies and get some sleep. I was able to do a little bit of all of those things to pass the time.
As for those players and coaches, they sat at the front of the plane. I was able to take a glimpse of the team while in the air, and let's just say they were resting comfortably in first class. While most of them told me they were looking forward to enjoying the experience, the one thing no one enjoys is spending so much time on a plane.