China has always been a bucket list item for me, and with our time winding down in Asia, we decided we had better take the plunge. There are lots of hoops to jump through to visit China, including getting a visa ahead of time, and they are pricey and take lots of leg work (ie; taking our whole family to downtown Tokyo to the Chinese Embassy and also a return trip to pick up the passports), but the work was SO worth it! We also planned our own trip as opposed to joining a tour group (tours are the norm for China), and it was great!
Getting off of the plane was like times of old. No ramp, we just walked right down the stairs and off of the plane, then we took a bus to the terminal.
Just as in Vietnam, there were lots of creative family transports!
This was a fun area right outside of our hotel in Beijing, which we enjoyed wandering around on the first night.
Eva found a cute dessert at the hotel happy hour. We felt like we were still in Japan!
We strolled over to Tiananmen Square that evening and I loved the look of the lights.
There were lots of soldiers everywhere and more security than we were expecting for some reason.
We found an interesting food alley on our way home that night. Yes, everything looked like one giant "Chinatown".
There was lots of interesting street food in this alley. Scorpions anyone? You could choose live (still wiggling) or fried. I passed, but I guess I'd choose the fried?
Also, starfish on a stick. That's a new one!
Fried duck. The whole thing. I guess it's okay that I was still full from dinner!
***The next morning***
Ella started every morning of our trip with wonton soup, she loved all of the Chinese food options on the breakfast buffet.
And cha siu bao, pork buns. This gal always jumps into an adventure with both feet!
We walked back to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, to check things out in the daytime and tour the grounds. The Forbidden City was the Imperial Palace from 1420-1912, and covers 180 acres!
Love these people!
The Forbidden City grounds were beautiful and we enjoyed walking around.
Time for a break and a family selfie!
We saw lots of rock formations and rock gardens in China. Maybe this has some significance?
We loved the gardens but are still partial to a Japanese garden. No one even comes close to rivaling the Japanese in this department!
We even saw some cherry blossoms which were also just starting to bloom in Tokyo as we left.
The Chinese will do anything to get the perfect shot, including walking right over the rope and standing IN the flower bed that was in the process of being planted. No one said anything or found it odd. Funny.
There were lots of military around and we happened upon this exercise. I took the picture right before getting scolded for taking pictures. Ooops! I love a good scolding in a foreign language!
The large plaza across the street was where the university students rallied for a pro-democracy government in 1989.
During the protest, a full sized styrofoam Statue of Liberty was erected near this monument as a symbol of freedom. Eventually, hundreds of civilians and students were massacred in this very spot at the hands of their own government. People of the United States, lets protect freedom of speech with everything we have! We couldn't read any of the signs, but I'll bet there was no mention of this event. Sad.
On the walk to lunch we passed this beautiful cathedral. I wasn't aware that religious worship was allowed in China?
This was the only information we found, I'm not even sure if services are still conducted in this building, but I was encouraged to see the cross raised over China, just the same.
I always love a bridal photo shoot!
Ella's trip just wouldn't have been complete without dim sum.
We found a nice restaurant for lunch.
We ordered the specialty, shrimp dumplings and also pork dumplings. The shrimp were my favorite of the two.
Also, some pork buns.
And we threw in a few dumpling soups for good measure.
It was a fantastic lunch and Ella finally got her dim sum fix!
The girls were in awe over the crank window handle in the taxi and thought this was just the best invention ever! Everything old is new again?
We finished a great day with a trip to the Temple of Heaven.
This complex was also constructed in 1420 and served as a place to offer sacrifices to heaven.
The colors and detail were quite exquisite.
I loved these red doors.
The weather was absolutely perfect on this evening and I thoroughly enjoyed walking these grounds. (Coincidentally, we walked over 8 miles this day. Whew! The girls are troopers!)
On our way out, we saw a dance party happening in the park. I think the world needs more dance parties!
Up next... the Great Wall, and it was magnificent!