CHINA-GREAT HALLS AND GREAT WALLS

by Tori Ward, Cruise and Resort Specialist, ROX Travel

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and what better location to place that first step than in the country where the quote came from: China. I want to share an offer created exclusively for ROX Travel to visit this culturally rich and breathtakingly beautiful country.

The journey will start in Los Angeles. Included round-trip flights to China begin with the first stop in Beijing. A visit to Tiananmen Square will introduce you to the city.

Although the square today is very modern, it dates back to 1651. Within its 109 acres are several significant structures, including the National Museum of China. However, the striking impression you get when you look across the vast expanse is how empty it seems in spite of the thousands who traverse it each day. The square, named after the gate or Tiananmen that separates the square from the Forbidden City, is very flat and open.

During your trip, you will discover that nothing in ancient China occurred on a small scale. I wonder if another Chinese proverb also said, “Go big or go home.”

The Forbidden City, another 180 acres, lies directly to the north of the square. It is an extensive, sprawling complex with 980 buildings and halls built from 1406 to 1420 when the emperor moved the capital from Nanjing. No one could enter the walls without the emperor’s permission, thus the name Forbidden City. Until 1912 it was the royal seat of power for China.

The movie “The Last Emperor” was the first movie filmed inside its walls and describes the life of the last dynasty’s ruler. There are symbolic elements everywhere, from the high thresholds in front of each building to the characters and ornamentation built into the roof tiles and walls. Although most of the buildings are off-limits to tourists, the fact this ancient structure has been preserved and maintained in light of the dense population and turmoil over the last century is a testament to the respect the Chinese have for their historic treasures.

A visit to a pearl factory in the afternoon, then the delightful Summer Palace will complete the day’s activities. In the evening, the group will enjoy a Peking duck banquet at a restaurant specializing in this crispy bird and all its accompaniments.

As impressively large as the Forbidden City is, it’s a speck when compared to The Great Wall of China. Parts of the 13,171-mile wall, built as early as the 7th century B.C., are easily walkable, and you will have a chance to say, “been there, done that” on Day 4.

After breakfast on Day 5, you will board a flight to Xi’an, China’s former capital. I was very impressed with the beauty of the parks and ancient city wall around the center of town. Instead of walking dogs, as we do in our parks, people walk their caged birds.

For me, the highlight of my trip to China was Xi’an to examine one of the most exciting archeological finds of the 20th century, the Terracotta Warriors and Horses. The grounds around the excavated sites are beautifully maintained, and landscaping provides a relaxed parklike setting as you approach the main buildings. On your visit, you’ll find the gift shop has plenty of English language books describing everything you want to know about this UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) location.

Lunch and a visit to the Terracotta Replication Factory complete the afternoon. The optional dumpling banquet and Tang Dynasty stage show are worthwhile evening activities. The types and styles of dim sum served are impressive, while the show is a musical feast with elaborate costumes and a professional cast of singers and dancers.

The last part of the tour includes a visit to Shanghai, the largest city by population in China. After your flight arrives, you will visit the Bund. Be prepared for the Bund Brides posing in their wedding dresses along this five-block riverfront promenade. A silk factory tour will complete the afternoon.

The final day in Shanghai is a free day to spend enjoying the city on your own. When we go to Shanghai, we never miss a visit to one of the local indoor bazaars where everything for sale is negotiable.

This tour has been created exclusively for ROX Travel and includes both international and intra-China transportation. There are several optional post-tour packages including a trip to Chengdu to participate in a volunteer conservation activity at the Dujiangyan Panda Base. A five-day Yangtze River cruise is also available.

For complete information about this exclusive China tour in May 2020 call or contact Tori Ward at ROX Travel. tori@roxtravel.com or 928-254-9968.