Blog Posts from our Family Tour to China
Global Family Travels dedicates this blog post to our wonderful tour Chinese tour guides, who became our extended family while were traveling in China. We were very fortunate on this tour to have a fabulous primary guide, David Qi, who accompanied us to each destination and shared his in-depth knowledge of China’s history, and we also had three different local guides in Beijing, Xi’an and Chengdu who provided detailed information about their respective cities and the sights we visited. From both our guides and from the interaction we had with many of the locals in each city, the food we ate, the sights we saw, we all learned a tremendous amount about this amazingly rich and historical country. Please enjoy our family's China travel experiences on this blog page!
Day 1 in Beijing
We enjoyed our first morning in Beijing by beginning with a stop at the Gate of Heavenly Peace, or Tiananmen Square (the “soul of China” some call it), which has an assortment of communist-style buildings and monuments, including Chairman Mao’s memorial. Next, we did a walking tour of the 78 acre Forbidden City, home to Chinese Emperors since it was built in 1421. It is said to be the world largest existing palace complex with 999.5 rooms. While walking in the Imperial palace, you can retrace 500 years of Chinese history from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty. The palace is adorned with dragon and phoenix motifs, denoting the emperor and empress, respectfully. There were very few westerners visiting the Forbidden City today and many of the Chinese people carried beautiful fans or umbrellas to stay cool.
The highlight of our day was lunch at the Liu family’s house, where we learned to make our own dumplings! Mr. Liu’s wife taught us the art of dumpling making and after lunch, Mr. Liu showed us the art of calligraphy and paper art (double happiness symbol). Interestingly, Mr. Liu is a Kung Fu master and professional Kung Fu coach. His family has lived in their home for over five generations (120 plus years). The family pets included coi fish, a few birds and a very large pet cricket.
In the afternoon, we explored by rickshaw Beijing’s hutongs, traditional alleyways and courtyard homes which once covered the city. These ancient, pedestrian corridors offer visitors some colorful insight into how the majority of Beijing citizens once lived. Many grandparents were tending to little ones in these alleys and there were several games of mahjong taking place. We ended our day with a visit to the 13th century Drum Tower, where you can get a view of Beijing. The Drum tower was used once to tell the people of Beijing the time of day by the number of drums being beaten.
Day 2 – Our visit to the Temple of Heaven Park and the Great Wall of China
We started our active day by getting up early and joined the locals in the Temple of Heaven Park. In the park, where they were participating in various activities, such as Taiji, ribbon dance, sword dance, Chinese hacky-sack and water calligraphy. The Temple of Heaven was the prayer palace for good weather and bountiful harvests of the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties.
Next, we drove to the Mutianyu part of the Great Wall, which was built and restored in the early Ming Dynasty (1368 –1644) on the remnants of a wall originally built in the Northern Qi Dynasty (550-577). After taking a gondola ride up to the wall, we hiked this beautiful section of the Wall and and enjoyed a fun toboggan ride down to the bottom!