We didn't visit the school that i had read about and checked out about before departure. I got the sense this is less likely to happen and will not be included in future trips. I gave the gifts i bought to some local children, but perhaps check before buying and packing items.
The time on the bus was far less that i expected. It was great to drive past different sections of the wall and through villages etc along the way. The worst bit was (trying) to drive through Beijing on Friday rush hour - not great!
Get used to climbing steps and uneven terrain. Having been quite unfit, I prepared for this trip and it paid off. It's not the most difficult of walks, but some sections are uneven, wobbly etc or play on your thighs a bit! The pace was good throughout. We are apparently the fastest group ever to complete sections of the wall - ok, so for 2010 so far ;)!
The food was varied at each sitting, but did become repetitive after a while e.g. tofu, spongy tofu, smoked tofu.... Danny was receptive to some of our requests and managed those as best he could. I'm pleased to have tried local foods etc but it is not very exciting.
Use your group leader, they have a wealth of local knowledge e.g. we dined together on the free days and went to restaurants that i'm sure we would have walked past.
Barter in the local market - it's great to get a bargain!
Overall though - it was great!