I've finally found time to share our travels, of our November 2015, 11 day tour to China, using the company, Tripadeal. We travelled with our good friends and neighbours, who had spotted this marvellous package in the Sunday papers. The price was incredibly cheap, so we weren't expecting the quality of accommodation and tours that we experienced.
We flew out of Sydney on Southern China Airlines, to Guangzhou enroute to Beijing, where we arrived just before midday. We were met by our guide, Andy, who took us to lunch before checking us into the very comfortable Ritan Hotel, in the Central Business District's West End [5kms from Tiananmen Square], about 3pm.
It was perfectly positioned for us to set off to explore The Ritan or the Temple of the Sun Park, one of the oldest parks in Beijing. It had the feeling of New York's Central Park.
The leaves of the lovely ginkgo tree.
Beijing wasn't at all as I imagined it would be. I never felt as if I was in a city of 26 million. I loved its many faces. The streets were wide, tree lined and rose beds were often spotted. The high rise were much lower than in other cities we visited. The traffic was chaotic with buses, cars, trucks and an assorted variety of scooters and bicycles all weaving and pushing to have right away. Oh, I mustn't forget the fearless pedestrians doing their own thing.
The food was fabulous. Endless plates set down on lazy-susans to be shared by 8 to 10 people.
Vision was limited. On day 1 it was smog and we could feel it in our eyes and throat, but for the remaining 3 days, we believed it was just low cloud from the cold conditions. The temperature hovered between 0 - 3C.
Peking Duck night
Chinese Dumpling feast
Each morning we had to be ready to depart the hotel at 7.30am. There was a lot to do each day and Andy didn't want us delayed by traffic jams.
Day 2 - Tiananmen Square
Rickshaw ride - Hutong streets. Lunch in a family home.
Temple of Heaven
Tea tasting ceremony
Free time in the Silk markets.
City Gates to Tiananmen Square
We were one of the 1st groups to arrive at the empty Tiananmen Square. Within the hour, there was little concrete to be seen.
Entrance to the Forbidden City, facing into Tiananmen Square.
The Emperor's gate to the Forbidden City. Only the Emperor could enter here.
One of the 9 palaces within the city. The further away you lived from the Emperor's gate, your importance lessened.
It was COLD!
Vat for water storage, in case of fire.
Architectural details were stunningly beautiful.
Sizeable door wedges for giant doors.
This wall gives some indication of the vastness of the complex.
Rickshaw ride to a fast disappearing hutong district - a narrow lane or alleyway in a traditional residential area of a Chinese city.
As in all Asia, the provision of power is quite suspect.
I loved the 'bike coat' to keep warm in winter.
A delivery of charcoal cylinders for heating.
I was quite sad to witness the one child policy, although there has just been a change to the ruling.
The Temple of Heaven, literally the Altar of Heaven, is a medieval complex of religious buildings situated in the southeastern part of Beijing. Only the Emperors worshipped here, as they were the sons of heaven.
Sacrifical 'kitchen' and walkway to the altar in the temple.
Sacrifical walkway, now being used to play mahjong.
Kite flying, as we left for our tea ceremony.
I was hesitant about visiting China so soon after our magical 7 weeks in Europe, knowing it would be the complete opposite in population, culture, poverty, and pollution. Day 2 removed all my apprehensions. During our 11 days we were only going to gain a glimpse of the 'real China', but if each day was going to be as exhilarating as day 2, then the holiday was going to be another winner.
I hope your visit with me to China has been enjoyable. I would love to read your comment.