While my husband and I were researching and planning our trip to China we quickly realized five things:
- One trip won’t be enough to see everything. The country is 3.705 million square miles. In comparison, the United States measures 3.793 million square miles.
- There is a lot of history. The country’s first emperor lived from 259 B.C.-210 B.C. The Declaration of Independence wasn’t signed until 1776 A.D.
- Google is blocked in China. It is going to take some research and effort to over come our dependance on Google for translations and navigation.
- We needed to get into shape. After 8 days in country, we walked over 100 miles. Thats even after we figured out how to ride the subway in both cities.
- Check visa requirements. You can visit China without a visa however you are limited by the hours you can spend in country and by the cities you can fly in and out of. We chose to apply for visas so we could stay longer and have a little more flexibility.
We knew that we couldn’t see everything, but, everything we set out to see, we did. I feel like we hit the major attractions in Beijing and Shanghai.
- Tiananmen Square
- The Forbidden City
- The Ming Tombs
- The Mutianyu section of the Great Wall
- The Temple of Heaven
- The Beijing Zoo
- Shanghai Disney
- The Bund
- The Yu garden
As we explored, we found ourselves in the National Museum of China and several parks. It’s hard to say if we could have fit anything else into our trip. Though, I don’t think I could have walked any further.
It was interesting, I took this picture the first day we were in country, all the flags were up and flying. When we came back to go through the museum next to the square only the first flag was up.
The outside wall and the first gate of the Forbidden City.
This is a three level stage found inside the Forbidden City. Only the emperor was allowed to sit during the performances. The trouble, it sits in a short court, it was award to take the picture, I can’t imagine trying to watch a play.
Jingshan Park is right behind the Forbidden City and has a big hill. If you hike to the top you can see the back of the forbidden city. It is quite incredible. Back in the day this land was also closed off. It makes since, the emperor didn’t want to be spied on.
The Ming tombs are similar to Egypt’s valley of the dead. All but two Ming emperors are buried here. In this picture you can see the emperor’s final throne and his infinity candle. It was lit to provide the emperor light in the afterlife but it burned all the oxygen helping to keep things preserved. Some of the locals throw money at some of the artifacts, it is said to bring good luck. Our guide told us it was hog wash.
Now, there are stone carved dragons throughout the Forbidden City and the Ming Tombs. The difference, the ones in the Ming Tombs are more playful, which is why they are showing their tongue.
It was really cool watching the clouds roll in and out of the Great Wall. Tt reminded me of the art work from the opening of Mulan. I think the rain helped to keep people away, we had the whole place to ourselves.
Unfortunately this picture doesn’t show all the stairs we climbed to reach the top. Because each brick was hand cut and transported it isn’t really an easy walk.
This is the first Panda I have ever seen in person!
I like going to zoos in other countries, they let you feed the animals!
This is the Temple of Heaven, during imperial rule this was used to offer sacrifices to the Gods so they would bless the crops.The building was originally built square, some other emperor made it round.
These carvings are found on all the buildings that were commissioned and used by the emperors. At the time they were all hand carved. It is amazing how similar they are, there are thousands of them!
As the newest Disney park, Shanghai has the largest castle and is home to all the Disney princesses. Later in the afternoon they hold a show in front of the castle where all your favorite princes come out and sing.
The Yu Garden was amazingly peaceful and beautiful!
Just incredible, in some places you could see how the new city has grown up around this old garden. It created an interesting fusion between the new and the old.
The good news, subsequent trips to China in the next 10 years will be easier, since we already have visas. We have already started talking about what we want to see next. The next major site on our list is the Terracotta Army. The trick is getting there; Beijing to Xa’in is a two hour plane ride and another hour by car to get to the museum…its going to take some planning.