A Journey to China, Part 1: Beijing

I suppose I should preface: We took a package tour to China just after Thanksgiving 2017, having found a great deal on LivingSocial. We appreciated the opportunity to have a guide in a country where we wouldn’t be able to read or speak the language. Turns out that wouldn’t necessarily be a big concern for us on a return visit there, as the country was very user friendly. An interesting quirk of the package was that they took us to a lot of souvenir-oriented businesses…so just like the ads before videos, we got a sales pitch in addition to the main event.

When we arrived at the Beijing airport, our main task was to find the meeting point for our tour group, but we couldn’t help but be amused by the meeting point for unaccompanied minors. Good plan! We also wandered a little bit outside the hotel and found a hole in the wall takeout place catering to local college students. We fell in love with the dumplings and brought more tour people back each night.
Our first stop with the tour the next morning was Tiananmen Square. There was certainly an impressive military presence.
From there we went into the Forbidden City. The number of animal carvings on a building’s roof symbolized the importance of its inhabitants.
The restored detailing was absolutely beautiful. We were told it was done when the city hosted the Olympics. It was interesting to see deeper into the complex where they hadn’t yet been able to do so.
Here’s how it looks on a whole pavilion.

Let’s pause here for an itty bitty highlight of the tour group, since we had to bus to the next attraction. Our Beijing guide, Nina, was just adorable. Each family had a number to check in at the end of each stop. She called all of us her babies – which perhaps only once or twice caused a little confusion with the family who had their toddler along and thus typically used the moniker “baby family” rather than their number. We’d rather expected to have to curtail our international travel once we had our own kiddo, so seeing their successful (if occasionally extra burdened) experience was heartening.

Next stop Summer Palace. As noted, we were there in November, so there was not a lot of the verdant garden aspect. We would love to go back to see it in full bloom.
Another lake shot.
This barge was just gorgeous!
A curving covered walkway with more of the restored detailed paint work.
An ornate bridge.
On our next evening excursion, we saw the Olympic towers and construction cranes lit up.