China Tour: Beijing/ Xi'an/ Shanghai

Travel Blog By Jen
August 2009

Our guide said that it was fitting that we chose to visit Beijing, Xi'an and Shanghai for they represent:

    Beijing          - Political China
    Xi'an             - Ancient China
    Shanghai      - Modern China


First order of the day was lunch. This was just the beginning of many hearty lunches and dinners. The Chinese love food and they prepare them quite well! I don't think we ever got hungry during this tour. The food was literally overflowing. I especially liked the authentic Peking Duck dinner we had from Quanjude Restaurant. The duck meat was delectable!

We visited the Temple of Heaven today. This was built during the Ming Dynasty to offer sacrifices to Heaven. It is bigger than the Forbidden City, as the Chinese believe that their own dwelling should not be bigger than the dwelling for Heaven.


Today we went to Tiananmen Square and The Forbidden City. What was once forbidden is now a popular attraction to many, many tourist of local and foreign origin.
The largest square in the world (44 hectares in all), the Tiananmen Square is a must see for every visitor to Beijing. Chaiman Mao's mausoleum was built behind the monument along the central line. When we were there, the facade was being restored to prepare for China's National Holiday on October 01.

Next was the Forbidden City, which covers an area of 720,000 square metres and contains over 9,000 rooms. It is surrounded by a wide moat. It was the center of imperial power throughout the Ming and Qing dynasties. It is immense, giving the visitor a feel of how much power and influence the Emperor had during their time.

Also went to The Summer Palace. It is a luxurious garden providing royal families with rest and entertainment. The vast area is made up of lake, a hill and several palaces. Today, boat tours around the lake are available for visitors.

We also stopped by the Zoo to see the Giant Pandas! These pandas have been successfully bred in captivity for a number of years.

And to cap this very busy day, we watched an Acrobatic Show. There were performers as young as maybe 6-7 yrs old. These kids made our jaws drop with their back-bending, flying and balancing skills!


I climbed The Great Wall! We took the sliding car that brought us to the 2nd level of the Wall. From there, we walked up and down the stone steps to the end of Badaling Wall. It was such an accomplishment to reach the top! It wasn't an easy climb as there are parts of the wall that are very, very steep. Must bring good walking shoes.
"If you don't climb the Great Wall, you are not a true man." - Chairman Mao Tze Dong

Today, we also visited the Ming Tombs. Here lies the tombs of thirteen Ming Emperors.

In the evening, we went out on our own to Wangfujing Street and tried eating some of those bugs! Below is my brother trying out the scorpions and beetles!


Off we fly to Xi'an. Before proceeding to our hotel, we took a quick tour of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, the Bell Tower and the Drum Tower.
The Big Wild Goose Pagoda is an ancient building and a holy place for Buddhists.

The Bell Tower was built to provide early warning of attack by rival rulers.

The Drum Tower, on the other hand, was used to signal the running of time and was also used as an alarm system for emergency situations. The Bell and Drum Towers are 5-minutes apart on foot.


So excited to see the underground Terracotta Army! This is precisely the reason why I insisted in going to Xi'an. And this side trip was worth it. The entire excavation is just massive and there are more pits that have not been uncovered. Every warrior's face is unique and each one can be identified by rank or order. Their army and horses stand in battle formation, facing the enemies, to protect the tomb of Qin Shihuang, the first Emperor who united the country.
We were fortunate to have met the old farmer who discovered the site digging a well back in 1974. He still comes to the site to meet with visitors and sign autographs.
Aside from this, we also toured the Huaqing Hot Spring before our flight to Shanghai.

We also went to Huaquing Hot Springs. It is famous for its charming scenery and the romantic love story between Emperor Xuanzong and his concubine Yang Guifei in the Tang Dynasty. Also for viewing are the imperial pools of the Emperor, his concubines and for designated officials.


We are now here at 'Modern China.' We visited The Oriental Pearl TV Tower. At the top, there is a fiber-glass overhang which you can walk on with the view of the ground below. Amazing and scary! The Bund was closed that time in preparation for a global meet set in Shanghai. So we just crossed Huangpu River through the sight-seeing tunnel. We also toured Yuyuan Garden and then took the cruise tour along Huangpu River.

The Oriental Pearl TV Tower is 1,536 feet high.

Yuyuan Garden - a classical garden built by a government officer of the Ming Dynasty.

AUGUST 22, 2009: Shanghai-Manila

After breakfast, we visited The Jade Buddha Temple. There we saw monks sing their chants and the locals offering their prayers. It is said that the temple was built to house two Jade Buddha statuses which were brought from Burma by a monk. The two statues are still present there.
After a hearty BBQ lunch, we took the Maglev Train from Longyan Road to Pudong Airport. The Maglev Train goes as fast as 300 km/hr. It only took us a quick 8 minutes to get to the airport, a distance of 30 km!

It was a great birthday trip for me! I got to spend it in China with my family. Our Shanghai guide even led the group in singing "Happy Birthday" to me in Chinese. :-)

* All pictures and video are the writer's own.