We recently took a trip to China, with 2 of our best friends, through Friendly Planet Travel. Nick and I have never booked a trip through a tour company before, so we were a little hesitant at first. We like to explore and adventure around places ourselves on our own time (although, that would have been very hard for us to do in China). Let me start off by saying that we loved our trip to China with Friendly Planet Travel so much, that we booked another one to South America with them this morning. Enough said! From the flight, excursions, hotels and amazing customer service, Friendly Planet Travel is now our go-to company for booking any trips.
China was unlike any place I have visited before. I stood in the middle of the street, taking in all the sights, smells and sounds. The buildings filled the entire sky, the stinky tofu was unlike any other smell, and the car horns and motorcycle engines were blaring. Talk about a sensory overload. It was amazing! I learned so much about Chinese culture; from their way of everyday life to how much control their government has. Over dinner, we spoke with a Chinese woman couldn’t believe how our American government didn’t control the media (our television, radio, newspapers, etc…). At the same time, I couldn’t believe how much their government controls everything. You can’t even login to Facebook if you’re in China (there are that many users already without people in China…and that’s a lot of people)! It was a learning experience for both of us. And, I learned so much more throughout our entire trip. I’m grateful to have experienced this country, on the other side of the world.
And, to begin: One of my favorite pictures, from the Great Wall of China. The Great Wall! With my first step, I had immediate goosebumps. It takes your breath away.
(Warning: This is a long, picture-filled post) :)
At the Forbidden City. Ironically, that awesome lighting is from the sun trying to peek through the thick smog. It worked well :)
This was taken from the observatory at the Pearl Tower, in Shanghai. Again, you can see the thick layer of smog. But, it made for gorgeous, golden light on the city skyline.Here is that same view, taken at night.Something about that smog…I really love it here.Before we departed on out 13 hour flight, we had to connect through Los Angeles, California. Fortunately, we have a good friend who lives there. That night, we ventured around and made our way to the Santa Monica Pier. This was view from the very end of the pier, looking back.
Our first night in China! We started off in Beijing first (then flew to Shanghai). This was our very first meal here too: SLIPPERY CHICKEN. It was called that on the menu. And, the chicken was indeed as described, slippery. Once you get past the texture, it was pretty good!A picture with my friend and I! I don’t have a clue what is written on that sign…but, it made for a fun picture!One of the guys trying to sell us hats, gloves and toys for $3!Taken from one of the doorways in the Forbidden City. I just LOVE that light behind Nick. It makes that doorway look so powerful!
Every American dollar equals 6.3 yuan (or RMB)
My favorite skyline of all time: Shanghai. It was unbelievable! Imagine being in the city center, with buildings as high and as far as you can see. When you drive one hour outside of the city, imagine still seeing buildings as high and as far as you can see. It was truly a sea of buildings. We visited a “small” town outside of Shanghai; our tour guide, Lucy, said that there are 6 million people living there. I suppose that is a small city, when you’re referring to China’s cities. In Shanghai, there are 23 million inhabitants. Crazy!
All of us! :) Tiananmen Square. We were grateful for the amazing weather. And, by amazing I mean blue skies…because every day it was about 15 degrees Fahrenheit (as the high)!!Our awesome guide, Lucy. We loved her! She was amazing, and we miss her already!Our tour bus had beer in the cooler for ONE DOLLAR. It was so amazing. It was filled with Yanjing and Tsingtao (the main beer of our trip)!The pedestrians had their own roundabout! This was directly in front of the Pearl Tower in Shanghai.One of our excursions included eating dinner with traditional Chinese farmers in a village. We learned how to make Chinese dumplings by hand, in their kitchen. *Note, they are called farmers because they used to farm. The government bought their land (so they are rich now), as they needed the space for construction and building. And, their village is what we would call an apartment complex (very similar).Nick learning to make dumplings. This is definitely one of my favorite pictures – he is listening so carefully.
And, the 2008 Olympic Bird’s Nest (Beijing National Stadium)! Right to the left, is the water cube (where Michael Phelps swam)!! We visited a jade factory, where every piece of jade is hand carved. I snuck a picture of a worker carving.All of us again, on the Great Wall! It’s still so surreal to say that we’ve been to the Great Wall!We had a delicious duck dinner, before enjoying a kung fu show!
Taken in the Hutongs. Street food! Nick tried it. I was too scared :/ Although, it does look tasty!Oh, Shanghai!At one of the markets, we bought a painting from a Shanghai artist. It looks just like the skyline below! I’m excited to have brought back a really meaningful souvenir that we can hang in our house.One day, we went “high rise hopping!” This is a view from one of the bars. That tall, skinny building with the purple spheres is the Pearl Tower.The Pearl Tower!We went to a tea farmer’s house; she made us delicious, hot green tea!A little California view…before leaving for China.The view from the plane, as we were flying over Siberia. Cool!We can’t wait for our next trip!!
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Lodging in Beijing & Shanghai, China