Author: leslie whitehead speranza
Date of Trip: August 2005
Last August, my husband, and three children (ages 19, 16, and 12) went to Beijing, Xian, Kunming, Dali and Hong Kong for 20 days on a private tour. I arranged the tour with the help of Absolute Asia so that we could see as much as possible yet give us the liberty to change our minds (if you have children you understand). I wanted to see China’s wonders, its changes to be an economic giant and as much of its rural and ethnic people as we had time.
August is very hot and Beijing with its smog is sweltering. Beijing is amazing with the Forbidden City, Summer Palace, the hutongs and huge Peking Duck restaurants. We got up early and went to see Mao’s Tomb-a cultural experience worth the wait. The night market is also interesting-do scorpions sting when you eat them? We skipped the zoo as we can see pandas here-disappointing to our guide. The Great Wall is beyond amazing-we went to the Mutainyu entrance-wow! Pictures can never capture the magnificence of it and the sacrifice of those who built it. We stayed five nights at the Hyatt Regency.
We then went to Xian to see the Terra Cotta Warriors. The archeological site is so well done-it is also beyond description. We toured Xian and ate mongolian hot pot. We stayed two days/one night and then on to Kunming for a stopover for the night on our way to Dali. Hyatt-Xian, Harbor Plaza-Kunming.
Dali is a wonderful city in southwest China in the province of Yunnan where the “ethnic minorities” live. The ancient city of Dali is known as a backpackers stop so there are all kinds of restaurants that make “apple pie and Hamburgers”. My kids were excited to eat something different even if it wasn’t exactly American food. We took a boat ride on Erhai Lake, rode a lift to the top of a mountain overlooking this beautiful place and visited the Three Pagodas of Chongsheng Temple. Our guide was a Bai Woman in traditional garb. She took us to the local market and explained the many different ethnic groups of the area. Dali Asia Star hotel-3nights.
We ended our trip in Hong Kong at the Intercontinental. Unfortunately the rain was horrible-record amounts. We spent a lot of time indoors shopping-hitting all the markets. We still had a great time in that amazing city-visiting the temples, Victoria Peak, trying to figure out some of the people in the wax museum.
Traveling with teens is great but you need to let them have down time as well. We let them sleep late a few days (until 10) or go out on their own (the 16/19 year old) in Hong Kong. Everyone ate well-finding new food we loved. My son is very picky but ate something at every meal. We did hit McDonalds one night-it was late in Beijing…..
We took this trip not only to see China but to understand the impact it has on the world both politically, socially, and economically. Our guides answered all my kids’ questions about family, communism and business and gave us a lot to talk about. Great opportunity!