Thursday, March 14, 2013

China Trip: Beijing

Two years ago, I crossed a country off my bucket list. It was my first foreign adventure in a long, long time, and it took me to the Middle Kingdom, other wise known as China.

I never posted a blog about it because my life also happened to be completely upside down at the time. 2011 was the year I took a giant leap of faith that everything would be okay - I quit a solid job so that I could move back to Southern California, totally job-less. Thankfully, my China trip had been planned and paid for the summer prior, so I was locked in to this vacation. 

Now I find myself two years later, staring down another foreign adventure, and finally ready to blog about my China trip.

I went with my best friend and her family, and we packed in a whirlwind of a trip. We were on the ground for seven days, and we visited five cities. The first was Beijing.

China was amazing. It is crowded, and by crowded, I mean that there are people everywhere, at all times of day. It's like when you go to a football game, the game's over, and everyone's leaving. That's how China is all the time. But it's also so very old. There's just so much history to this country, and I only saw five cities.

Here's the first, Beijing. We visited the Forbidden City, which was the Imperial Palace from the Ming Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty.

We entered the Forbidden City from the back. It actually really helped to go against the grain.

The usual Forbidden City shot - view from the front, with Mao's portrait hanging.

A female lion at the Forbidden City. You know she is female because she has a baby lion under her left paw.
 Next, we went to the Summer Palace.

A boat at the Summer Palace, made of marble.
 Another stop included the Temple of Heaven.

Temple of Heaven
A trip to China is incomplete without a visit to the Great Wall. It is an amazing sight to behold. From the parking lot, it looks easy to climb. Really, it is steep, with stairs of varying heights. I climbed much higher than I expected I would. It was cold up there, and I started out wearing my two jackets, a hat, and gloves. By the time I stopped climbing, I had to remove my jackets, hat and gloves (see the picture at the top). We saw the Juyonguan part of the Great Wall.

Climbing the Great Wall, and looking down at the second turret and parking lot.
Our China trip was a guided tour. Tours in China include things like rickshaw rides and visits to the homes of local families. My thought was that these visits are meant to show Westerners like us that Chinese families are living good lives...but who knows.

It was a chilly ride, so the rickshaw had blankets for us.
Our last day in Beijing included a stop at the Beijing National Stadium, which most of know as the Bird's Nest, home of the 2008 Summer Olympics.

We did not go in the Bird's Nest, and just made use of the visit as photo opp.

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