We only had four days off for New Year’s, so we decided to go to Beijing with Kangsan Travel. We were hesitant about spending our vacation with a tour group, but it turned out to be a fun and fulfilling trip. As soon as we got off the plane, our fabulous tour guide, Charley, greeted us at airport. Charley, a Chinese man who had studied English in England, made the tour informative and extremely fun. We were able to do more than we could have done on our own. Our first meal in China was very appropriate for the frigid weather that we faced. We went to a rustic temple restaurant where we had a traditional Hot Pot. It is commonly known as a Chinese fondue or steamboat. It is a mixture of lamb or pork and a variety of vegetables and is cooked in a hot pot of broth at the table. It’s guaranteed to warm anyone on a cold winter day.
Next, we headed to watch a traditional Chinese Acrobatic show. The performers were probably younger than 25 years old. When you go to Beijing be sure to stop by and experience an amazing show that teaches you more about the culture of China.
After a full day of traveling and sightseeing, we still decided to bring in the New Year’s, Beijing style! We partied in one of the hottest nightclubs that Beijing has to offer. VICS Club is located near Worker’s Stadium and is a haven for trendy locals who love to have a good time. It’s like two clubs in one with all kinds of great music. The DJs played hip hop, dance and club music. This was an unforgettable New Year. After 2am we decided to go to the hotel because we needed to get up by 8am to start our first adventure of the New Year by climbing the Great Wall of China. But, we couldn’t go back to Holiday Inn Lido Hotel without a hot dog!
Climbing the Great Wall of China was amazing. Many people live their entire life wanting to make a trip to one of the wonders of the world and we were very excited to check the Great Wall off our list of “Things to do before I die.” The Great Wall of China is one of the cornerstones of Chinese culture. It’s one of the largest military walls in all of history and served to protect the early Chinese empire from hostile enemies. The Great Wall of China has been around for nearly 2000 years and still stands today as a wonderful architectural beauty. The Ming Dynasty built the Great Wall of China. It was built of stone, wood and bricks to keep enemies away. If you get a chance to climb this great wonder of the world, do it! Click here to find out more about the history of the Great Wall of China.
Summer Palace is a famous classic imperial garden with breathtaking views. In the wintertime you can go ice-skating on the frozen lake. The Summer Palace is a must see when you head to Beijing.
Tiananmen Square is the largest city square in the world and it can hold up to 10 million people at one time! It is a symbol of China, as it sits in the center of Beijing and displays the Tinanmen Tower, the Great Hall and Mao Zedong's memorial. It has been the site of many historical events, among which was a gathering of pro-democracy protesters in 1989. The protest lasted for six weeks after the leader of China who supported economic and political reform passed away. Protesters were mostly students who wanted economic change and democratic reform. The protest ended when hundreds of these protesters were killed by government troops in the streets. Click here to learn more about Tiananmen Square.
Behind Mao Zedong's memorial laid the Forbidden City. Built in the 15th Century and consisting of 980 surviving buildings, the Forbidden City has been named a World Heritage Site and listed by UNESCO as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden buildings. The Forbidden City is an amazing and enormous place. We were lucky to see the Forbidden City in snow.
But what is even larger than the Forbidden City is the Temple of Heaven. It is the largest group of structures in the country dedicated to rituals that pay homage to heaven. This temple was built specifically for the worship of heaven and prayers for good harvests during the time of the Ming and Qing dynasties. As we walked around I really thought that this name of the temple was very appropriate for this magnificent structure. But another interesting site near the Temple of Heaven wasn’t a structure; it was the park outside of the temple that was filled with elderly people enjoying life. They were singing, dancing, playing music and games. It was amazing to see the joy in these people’s lives with the even the simplest things.
Shopping in China is an adventure in itself. If you don’t know how to bargain, stay home. For example if you’re looking to buy a tea set, the price starts at 500 Chinese Yuan. The game starts by going back and forth. I really enjoyed shopping in China because it involved a lot of acting and body language. After five minutes of going back and forth I was able to buy the same tea set for 50 Chinese Yuan, which is equivalent to $7.30. At the end even though I did a great job bargaining, I accepted that I still got ripped off. Everything in the world is made from China and it is quite amazing to see the people sell their products.
After traveling around the world, China stands out. There is something special about this unique and beautiful country. The food, diversity, culture and people of China are great. With more than 1.3 billion people living in China and 56 different dialects of the Chinese language, I think we have our work cut out for us as Americans. China is on the brinks of being the next superpower nation in the world. We would like to thank Kangsan travel and all of our friends who made this trip very special. Xing Nian Kwai le (Happy New Year)!