By Wanda Frecks
This was my first trip to Asia. It began with an overnight stay at Townplace Suites in Hawthorne near LAX. Bright and early on Monday morning I departed for LAX to meet our group. We were checked in at the American Airlines and then toured the Admiral’s Club lounge and were treated to breakfast in the Flagship Lounge which was fantastic. We boarded our beautiful Boeing 787 Dreamliner for the non-stop flight to Beijing.
Upon arrival, we cleared customs and immigration and I reminded myself that I really need to get a Global Entry Pass.
Once all the arrival formalities were completed we were greeted by Ma, our tour guide for the next several days. Our land program was handled by Alluring Asia and they were wonderful. Ma saw to our every need and guided us through.
Our home away from home was the Rosewood Beijing. It is a beautiful hotel and the rooms are very spacious and comfortable. The staff at the Rosewood was amazing and saw after our every need. They became like family to us.
Day One was very special, beginning with a trip to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall. WOW! I could hardly believe that I was actually standing on the Great Wall of China.
We took the chair lift up to the watch tower and walked the wall and followed the curve of the mountain up and down the many uneven steps. This area is not for those who may have mobility limitations.
To use the old saying, “What goes up, must come down”, we chose to take the Slideway, also called the Luge or the Toboggan down. It was so much fun, I think I giggled all the way down!
We concluded our day at the Summer Palace, resort of the Empress Dowager Cixi. We walked along the Long Corridor, enjoyed the peacefulness of Kunming Lake and saw the Marble Boat.
Dinner at the Country Kitchen at the Rosewood hotel was quite interesting. It is served family style, so you sample everything. It was like an adventure in eating and I did not see them menu until after dinner.
Day two brought more adventure and a full day of exploring. We walked through Tiananmen Square recognizable from the historic events and the famous images of a young man vs. Chinese tank in 1989. The image of Chairman Mao dominates the square and the Forbidden City looms behind the Gate of Heavenly Peace.
The afternoon was spent in one of Beijing’s traditional neighborhoods or Hutongs. We saw the old quadrangle and visited a family in their home
where we learned to write Chinese characters. We rode around in a rickshaw, not powered by a runner but rather a bicycler. That is the new way.
We also were able to see and hear a drum ceremony in the tower in the square.
Our day concluded with a visit to the Waldorf Astoria Beijing where we experienced a tea ceremony, and had a wonderful dinner in the Presidential Suite.
Day three and our final day in Beijing was filled with new adventures. We visited the Temple of Heaven, which is a group of temples and altars set in a large park. The park is so beautiful and it attracts people to come and socialize and dance and do Tai Chi and work out. It was very moving for me to see such a lovely place with people coming together in peace and harmony. We also visited the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest, which is a circular temple where the emperor himself came to pray for his people.
After lunch we were taken to the Beijing Airport where we visited the China Air lounge and readied for our 13 hour non-stop flight to LAX. We said goodbye to Beijing and a culture that I had experienced for the first time. I arrived safely back in LA, (reminded myself again to get a Global Entry Pass) and relished my memories of an ancient land.
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