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Beijing: Pearl of the Orient

Written by Scott McRee.

Recently I had the distinct pleasure of escorting a group of 39 people to Beijing, China, “The pearl of the orient”. If you have never ventured outside the United States, or to this exquisite country, now is the time! Let me take a few minutes to describe our China experience.

Our Pacific Delight Tours group arrived in the Beijing International Airport at 5:30pm on Monday, June 16. We were graciously greeted just inside the terminal doors by our English-speaking interpreter, Jason. He is a 28-year-old graduate of Beijing University of Foreign Language. He was with us throughout the trip, and escorted us to various sites, including The Forbidden City, The Temple of Heaven, The Summer Palace, and The Great Wall, to name a few.

We stayed at the deluxe Palace Hotel, a sumptuous hotel, and a must when staying in Beijing. The Palace is 30 minutes from the airport. Upon arrival at The Palace you realize that you are in a different country. You are greeted by a melodic 10-piece ensemble which plays each evening from 5 to 10pm. As you walk into the lobby, the view is breathtaking, a beautiful white marble bridge overlooks the lobby’s waterfall that splits graciously down four stories of marble.

We visited the Imperial Palace, popularly known as the Forbidden City, which was the permanent residence of emperors of the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Built in 1406-1420, the Imperial Palace has a history of 560 years, occupying an area of 720,000 square meters with over 9,000 rooms.

The Imperial Palace is the largest and most complete group of ancient building China has preserved to the present. Our tour also included the Summer Palace where we enjoyed cruising in a traditional dragon boat on Lake Kunming. The palace was built in 1750 and served as the primary summer residence for the emperors of the Qing Dynasty. This tour was extremely interesting, and the architecture was splendid.

Next we visited the ornate Temple of Heaven. This is an enormous structure located in the heart of Beijing. The temple was built in 1420 AD, during the reign of Emperor Yongle of the Ming Dynasty. The emperors of the Ming and Qing Dynasties came here to offer sacrifices to Heaven and prayed for a good yearly harvest.

Wednesday, after a good night’s rest, we prepared to go to the Great Wall of China. It was an hour by motorcoach to the entrance of the Wall in a community called Badelling.

The Wall rises and falls in concert with the ridges of the northern mountains of China, from Shanhaiguan Pass in the east to the Jiayuguan Pass in the west. The Great Wall measures 4,000 miles long and ranks as the greatest ancient project in human history.

Many of us took the opportunity to enjoy additional sightseeing provided by Pacific Delight. The tour of Hutongs was one of our highlights. The trip to see the 700-year-old dwellings called “Hutongs” in the heart of Beijing was magnificent.

We traveled through this ancient section of Beijing by bicycle-rickshaw and admired the fusion of things ancient and modern. The Evergreen Village provides a splendor and magic rarely seen outside Beijing. This special village is a large commune with a population of 45,000 people. This community is entirely supported by the varied talents and skills of the residents. They maintain their own schools, senior citizen centers, and farms. The Evergreen Village philosophy is simple: residents must contribute to the betterment of the village.

Beijing is an exciting adventure just waiting to be explored with many delightful places to see and experience. Pacific Delight Tours to China include airfare, deluxe hotel, plus bonus miles from Northwest.