When I began my passion blogs approximately ten weeks ago, I would’ve never thought my posts would’ve encompassed a myriad of experiences. This week, I want to revisit my time in China, but this time, I will highlight an unforgettable summer in Beijing.
I’ve only travelled to China twice in my life, and the trip to the capital of China was my first. In the summer of 2007, my family embarked on multiple tours across Taiwan before finishing five days in Beijing. From my recollection, I couldn’t recall a separate instance in which my feet were as sore from walking as they were on that trip. However, the sights from my five days were incredibly remarkable (partially because the smog hadn’t significantly consumed China at the time). With hikes up the Great Wall, a tour of the Beijing Olympic Stadium, and a stroll through the Forbidden City, my family and I were grateful to have this incredible opportunity.
The prospect of travelling in a tour group in China creates many advantages, including a more structured and organized experience. From the moment we touched down in Beijing International Airport, the bus driver and three tour leaders eagerly greeted us. Our first stop was at Tiananmen Square (named after the Gate of Heavenly Peace). While I was too young to appreciate the historical significance or know about the Tiananmen Square Massacre, I was in awe at the amount of people it could hold.
Separated by the north gate of Tiananmen Square was the Forbidden City, which was the Chinese imperial palace for the Ming dynasty until the end of the Qing dynasty. This prodigious complex holds approximately 180 acres, over 8000 rooms, and over 900 buildings (now you know why I sat down at every bench I came across). The tour of the city lasted the entire day, including a stop at the Palace Museum which is the most visited museum in the world. The museum houses priceless ceramics, exquisite paintings, and other rare pieces of ancient Chinese art.
Of course, what trip to another country would be complete without eating some authentic local cuisine? Beijing possesses one of the most influential culinary traditions in all of China, and most of what Americans know as “Chinese food” originated in Beijing. The first thing you need to try in Beijing is their duck. With light crispy skin, tender meat, and finely seasoned slices, the Beijing duck is too delectable to pass. The restaurant we dined at was apparently renowned as serving the top 5 Beijing duck in the world.
After a rich night of dining over duck, my family and I followed the tour group and ventured to witness the Great Wall. The pictures online aren’t nearly as awe-inspiring as seeing the structure in person—and to think that the wall was constructed centuries ago adds even more respect. I’m not sure if there are multiple places to scale the Great Wall, but the portion of the wall our group visited was incredibly steep. Many people didn’t attempt to climb the wall because walking down would be extremely dangerous (imagine walking through the HUB during lunch time down an incline of 50 degrees).
In the end, we received other amenities, such as massages, acupunctures, Chinese theater, and more. While I was too young to appreciate the political, historical, and aesthetic significance, I am very glad I had the opportunity to explore Beijing and its rich culture.