Friday, October 12, 2012

2012 Asian Adventure - China Epilogue

China was magnificent.  The tour had been structured perfectly.  I mentioned before that the tour was done in reverse.  This turned out to be perfect.  I can't imagine starting the tour in Beijing all jet lagged, with a busy itinerary, and trying to get to know your new travel mates.  Shanghai was a better place to get your bearings and for group introductions.

We ended up with a group of wonderful people - not tourists but travelers.  The group adds a lot.  Of the three group trips I've been on (Peru, Jordan, and China) two of the groups have been an asset.  Jordan is the only group that disappointed.  Jordan was a mix of Americans, Central Americans, and Europeans.  Peru and China were all American.  That might have been the difference.  Not to say Americans are better, we just had more in common.

Someone asked me what was my favorite place in China.  I can't really put my finger on any one place.  It seemed like every new place we would visit was spectacular or at least new.  Even the touristy parts were satisfying.  Just about everything was awesome:
  • Our four day cruise on the Yangtze was a perfect length.  We ran into another tour group who'd had a nine day cruise and they had been bored out of the skulls.  Our cruise was full to the brim with activities with just the right amount of down time.
  • We made it to Tibet, something the other tour groups we encountered could not say.  Again I say, we were so ... so lucky to get to go to Lhasa.
  • We went to the major Panda breeding facility in China.  Other groups went to smaller ones in Chongqing.
  • Add in all the temples, palaces, terracotta soldiers, Tienanmen Square, the Forbidden City, and the Great Wall and everything met or exceeded my expectations.

All in all, we had an incredible trip through China with a very good guide.  She suggested changes that all turned out for the better.  She did not hesitate to answer our questions, even the tough ones about the cultural revolution and the one child policy.  Her honesty was a pleasant surprise.  While our guide answered all our history/political questions, she did have one short coming.  There were four teachers in our group.  Two were science teachers who loved to ask questions like "What kind of bird is that?  What kind of tree is that? Where are all the birds?"  Our guide couldn't answer any of them.  It was like nature was a mystery to her.  At one point a peacock screeched (if you've heard a peacock you know how they can be loud and obnoxious) and our guide said it was a panda.  We all laughed at that.  She eventually confessed to us that during those nature classes she had met her husband and was ... a little distracted.

Not everything was great.  I wasn't thrilled with the rickshaw ride in Beijing.  We were there in monsoon season so the sun was a rare sight indeed but the lack of hard rain was welcome.  Throughout our travels there was always an air of oppression.  It wasn't unexpected, and it wasn't always obvious ... except in Lhasa where it felt like a cloud hanging over everything, but it was still there.  In all of our hotels, very comfortable hotels, we always had access to CNN International, BBC International, and/or Al Jazeera.  When we asked the guide about some riots in Hong Kong, she didn't know anything about it.  Turns out these international channels are only available in hotels and are not available to the Chinese citizens.  I didn't do much on the internet while I was there except check e-mail.  The wife, being the obsessed teacher she sometimes is, had to check her students AP test scores.  We never encountered a blocked site.  When I got home I changed my e-mail password ... just in case.

Most importantly the negative was overwhelmed by the awesome and I left China with wonderful memories and a bit tired from all of what we'd seen and experienced.  I can't ask for anything more from my travels.

Pictures from the China and Tibet portion of our travels can be found in my 2012-06 China and 2012-06 Tibet Google Photos albums.

Our 2012 Asian Adventure continues ...

2 comments:

  1. I feel repetitive saying so, but I love reading about your travels :) I'm glad you had a great trip!

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    Replies
    1. Autumn: Don't worry about being repetetive. Your comments are always welcome. Thanks!

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