The Good to Go gang is living 13 hours ahead in the future. That’s the time difference between Oklahoma and Beijing, China.
It took us 14 hours to fly from Dallas to begin our two week adventure of seeing the world’s third largest country.
Of course, we will only be able to scratch the surface of the history of the longest running civilization on this visit, but we will do our best to make some sense of kingdoms and dynasties and emperors.
Today we visited Tiananmen Square. This 100 hundred acre square can hold up to a million people that attend festivals, and celebrations in the heart of the city.
We walked through the Forbidden City which was closed for 500 years to ordinary citizens. We enter through the Gate of Heavenly Peace. We would declare this “gate” to be a “building” back home, but everything is on a grand scale surrounding the 9,999 rooms here.
Part of the cultural learning is the food and China certainly has a unique dining experience.
Chinese eat at large round tables for 8-10. Hunger was a so present in Chinese history, that the joke that everything is eaten in China is based on some truth.
We had rabbit on our breakfast buffet. Dishes are made up of different combinations of vegetables with small amounts of meat. The food is flavorful and served very attractively, family-style on a large lazy Susan in the middle of the table.
Small portions of 6-8 courses are spun around for self-serving along with sticky white rice and hot tea.
Don’t be looking for ice or cold drinks. The Chinese believe the stomach should be warm and don’t understand why Americans are always after a refrigerated drink that we then add ice. The meal generally ends with watermelon.
We are trying to get the hang of chopsticks, luckily a fork has been placed by our plates.
This is your Fearless Leader’s third trip to China. I’m impressed again with cleanliness of the city, especially for a place where the population counts about 20 million people in an area 80 by 80 miles.
There are about six million cars and I don’t need to point out the road traffic and the foot traffic is heavy. This might not be a favorite place for those who need a lot of personal space.
Life in China doesn’t afford large living or working spaces, so locals are used to the constant crush of humans. Our American tourist style strolls along with large gaps in our lines.
We will have to learn to be a bit more aggressive to get to the front to snap our photos. There are no homeless, they are taken off the streets and returned for their family to care for or placed in a shelter.
Public areas are clean. The street sweepers run every morning and what isn’t washed by machine is swept by hand.
One would expect the Imperial City to be quite ornate with art and it is. Our five-star hotel is decorated from floor to ceiling with carvings, and fabrics, and beautiful things.
Better toilets are ranked with a star- system. We haven’t had a chance to determine what merits a ‘star’ but I’m sure we will be Good to Go over the next couple of weeks and have an answer to that question!
Patti Beth Anderson has more than 20 years of experience in the group travel industry taking people all over the world. Her motto is "I return with the same number of people I left with… not necessarily the same people, but the same number nevertheless. So no 'crankpots' allowed" She may be reached at 918-786-3318 or firstname.lastname@example.org.