Author: Alan Liebowitz
Date of Trip: March 2014
Thank you, Independent Traveler, for turning me on to China Spree’s 8-day Timeless Beijing tour. When I saw it advertised, I really thought it had to be a scam as the price was so low. It wasn’t, and I had a tremendous experience, also fulfilling a lifelong dream by walking on the Great Wall.
Traveling alone and knowing that my Mandarin was essentially non-existent, the tour seemed like a great idea, especially since the guided tours included all of my must-see’s – Great Wall, Forbidden City, Pandas, and more for this first visit to China. The Beijing group consisted of 9 flying out of JFK, and 38 from LA and SF, but our tour guide, Jing, was top notch and the group was surprisingly compatible.
The hotel was much nicer than I had imagined when I first booked the trip. The American and Chinese buffet breakfast was outstanding and a great way to start the day. Even better, the coffee was as good as anything I’ve had at home, so there went another stereotype. Some of us took the subway to visit the National Museum, and that was a great experience in itself.
I grew up in the 60’s, at a time when “Red China” dominated headlines. This trip to Beijing opened my eyes – besides seeing Buicks everywhere, the city is all about commerce 24/7 and it was hard for me to reconcile the image I had of Communist China with the thriving market economy I encountered. The people were friendly, and I didn’t really need to go to my Mandarin app. If you’re nice to people, generally they are nice to you, even when you don’t speak the same language.
Again, thank you for putting this trip into my head – it came together very quickly and resulted in one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.