I was itching to see The Great Wall. Then I realized that the one hour plus car trip from Beijing with a three-year-old who easily gets carsick wasn’t ideal. And then walking along the wall in the heat and driving back. No. Impossible.
So we took the much shorter car ride to The Forbidden City, the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming through the Qing dynasties. This massive series of pavilions seems to stretch into infinity. With a temperature of 99 degrees F, it was impossible to walk through the entire complex without falling victim to heatstroke! No wonder most of the Chinese ladies walk around with delicate, ornate umbrellas to protect themselves from the sun’s intensity.
We compromised, walking through the first few pavilions… and then a few days later in Shenyang, we visited that city’s “Forbidden City.” It is smaller, but actually more beautiful. Instead of locked pavilions, we found open doors and much to see within.
People's Park, Shanghai
In Shanghai, my favorite stop was the Yu Garden, with its lovely plants, traditional buildings and rocks. I had dreamed of visiting a traditional Chinese garden and wasn’t disappointed. It is especially interesting to see this sort of natural setting in the midst of Shanghai’s new constructions, reaching high into the sky. For a taste of this “new” Shanghai, a walk along the “Bund” at night was the perfect choice…
I loved Beijing for its history. There are many temples and sights to see, and the city is so big and the heat so intense, that only one or two sights can be covered in one day. Shenyang was a wonderful example of a typical big city in China. And Shanghai, with its massive modern buildings and endless streets of European and American shops, reminded me that the east isn’t too far from the west.
For me, China was a lesson in history and the future. Not a relaxing vacation, but one filled with discovery and movement.
Beijing Never Sleeps...