In September 2004, at the third attempt, we spent two weeks visiting Beijing, Xian and Shanghai.
Our Shanghai visit coincided with China’s first Formula One Grand Prix.
We travelled with SAGA (Spending Any Grandchildren’s Assets) and flew from London to Beijing
(via Helsinki – as you do).
On the afternoon of our arrival we were offered an ‘optional‘ trip to see the Imperial Summer Palace,
this set the tone for the holiday, we crammed as much into each day as was possible.
The Summer Palace is set in a beautiful park with a vast lake, artificial hill (built with the spoil from the lake)
and a beautiful summer palace.
We then visited the Drum Tower, Bell Tower, enjoyed a ‘traditional’ tea ceremony – a busy first day.
The following morning we visited Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, enjoyed lunch in one of Beijing’s finest restaurants
(at least judging by the number of US Presidential photos on the walls),
then a traditional ‘Hutong’ residential district, these are small courtyard homes in narrow lanes – imagine a Chinese ‘Coronation Street’.
The following day we were taken to Badaling, the tourist stop on the Great Wall.
Our trip out to the Great Wall was interesting, the main highway out of Beijing to Badaling
was solid with traffic. I never expected to hear the phrase “tailback on the road to Mongolia“.
When we got to Badaling there is a choice; to turn left and do the easy walk, or turn right and travel the
steeper, but less crowded route.
Needless to say we turned right, and walked for three watchtowers, a distance of about half a mile,
but it did offer spectacular views across to the ‘easy’ section.
After Beijing we flew down to the city of Xian, to see the Terracotta Warriors.
Again, we were off and running as soon as we had landed, visting the Goose Pagoda and the old
Xian city walls before we even got to our hotel.
The following day we visited the Terracotta Warriors.
The Warriors are such an amazing site, entering the main hall is little short of breathtaking, so please excuse the rare ‘been there done that’ ‘selfies’.
From Xian we flew down to Shanghai, where we were to spend a week.
The Bund looks for all the world like Liverpool’s waterfront.
We were told of the Peace Hotel and the various personalities that had stayed there.
Sadly we didn’t have much time to explore.
Immediately opposite The Bund is the futuristic skyline of the Pudong.
The building in the middle of this picture is the 88 story Jin Mao Tower.
The top 36 floors of the tower form the Grand Hyatt hotel, which boasts a 29 story atrium.
When we visited it was the tallest hotel in the world, but that record has since been usurped (inevitably) by Dubai.