Date of Trip: June 2007
June of 2007 my family- which includes myself (36), husband (37) and our two sons 15 & 12- took a Globus Travel trip to China. We flew from San Francisco straight into Beijing- a 12 hour flight. The flight went very smooth and was pretty uneventful. Just make sure you take a lot of books, magazines, etc. to keep you busy. The planes from San Fran to Beijing don’t have the little TV’s in the seats!
When we landed in Beijing, the pollution was unbelievable. It looked like it was socked in with fog. Getting off the plane, the heat just hits you. It’s hot, very humid and the pollution makes it hard to draw a complete breath. Your clothes are instantly stuck to you. Getting through the airport was very easy. Our Globus representative greets you as soon as you get your luggage and get through customs. We were bused to our hotel and left for the day to relax, sleep or sightsee. There was a mall connected to our hotel (Trader’s Hotel). Our first meal was at a French Deli! (All the way to China for a French meal…) It was delicious and we looked back fondly at that meal over the next 11 days. We had ice cream at Baskin Robbins in the mall afterward. We were warned that we would be approached by college age students and asked to go to their “shop” located behind a building. Sure enough, our family of 4 was immediately approached. Luckily we had been warned because the couple were very clean cut and seemed like nice people. (Our guide told us that had they gotten us in the back they would have demanded our money and not allowed us to leave until we gave it to them.) They weren’t overly aggressive, when we said no they followed us for a while and then found someone else.
Our first day we went to the Forbidden City. Be prepared to be surrounded by locals and hounded endlessly to buy their souvenirs. A firm NO and making no eye contact does help some. The Forbidden City is amazing. It’s huge. People should do some reading about China and the sights before going. They mean a lot more when you know about them in advance. My kids got tired of me reading about China before we left but were definitely grateful when we got there.
The Great Wall was the best day for all of us. You can hike up a long ways before it falls into disrepair. To see this famous structure and climb it is really a highlight. We also really enjoyed the HUTONG (neighborhood) rickshaw ride, the Tang Dynasty Dinner show in Xi’an; a tea farm and the Terra Cotta Warriors.
We ended up in Shanghai. It’s a very modern city with malls lining the street. At night it looks like Vegas.
The food on this trip was…interesting. There was a lot of sweet & sour veggies, fish (with the heads on, gaping at you) and chicken feet in the soup. My family loves Chinese food and some meals were good but by the 3rd day we were all craving some food from home. I took some crackers, jerky, fruit leather, granola bars, etc and we wiped them out by the 2nd to the last day. One of our hotels had some OREO cookies in the gift shop and our bus bought them out.
Overall we had a wonderful time! Knowing what I did at the end of the trip I still would have done it. You just have to be prepared for the pollution (mainly in Beijing, as you get outside of the city it’s not as bad); the heat- stifling!; the food and the very pushy vendors. I’ve never had my arm tapped so many times!! The sights you see are spectacular and we got some beautiful pictures.