China Fam Mar 2 - 11th, 2005
Beijing, Chengdu and Shanghai

This fam was organized by the China National Tourist Office, Air China and China International Travel Service. Steve was from the Toronto office and Sam was our man in Beijing who was with us the entire trip. It was the first time I had ever been to China and I was very excited about what we were going to see and experience. We were not disappointed about anything except perhaps not having enough time to shop! That seemed to be the most pressing thing with most of us and with good reason. Shopping in Shanghai was not only fun but productive.

But before I go into further detail on that, I had better stick to the reason for going...that was to experience a different culture and visit some incredible sights along the way so that one day I might put a tour together to include both China and Japan Gardens. I shall start in Beijing.

It was pretty awesome arriving into a city with about 14 million people, 9 million of which travel on bikes and 4 million own cars. It also surprised me to see how modern it was, and clean. Beijing can trace it's history back 3,000 years and is the capital of China and right now is preparing for the
2008 Games.

King Wu was the first to declare Beijing the capital city in 1057 BC. Subsequently, the city has gone by the names of Ji, Zhongdu, Dadu, and finally Beijing when the Ming Dynasty Emperor Cheng Zu chose the name in 1421. Beijing was also known as Peking by the Western world before 1949. Real estate is pretty valuable and if you are planning on buying an apartment you are looking at around 2,000 US per square meter.

After checking into our hotel, the Capital Hotel, we had a bit of free time then met for dinner. After dinner it was time for sleep, to dream about our first day in China.

Our coach parked and we set off for a short walk to Tian'anmen Square. With a total area of 440,000 square meters, Tian'anmen Square is the largest square in the center of Beijing. The Tian'anmen Gate is a national symbol, with the Great Hall of the People on the western side and the Museum of the Chinese Revolution and the Museum of Chinese History to its east and west. The Monument to the People's Heroes - the 36 meter obelisk, made of Qingdao granite, dominates the center of the square. The Chairman Mao Memorial Hall sits in the south. Because the 10th National People's Congress was going on at the Great Hall of the People, the square was closed off to all. We had to be content with just taking a photo or two, then pass by the Museum with its huge banner of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games out front and over to the Forbidden City's Imperial Palace. Construction of the palace began in 1406, the fourth year of the reign of Ming Emperor Yongle, and it was completed 14 years later. In the years that followed, 24 emperors have ascended the throne and the last emperor, Pu Yi, was driven from the palace in 1924. The year after, the palace was converted into a museum and opened to the public. 200,000 men built it and it covers 720,000 square meters. It is said that it could take you 2 1/2 days just to visit all of the 9,999 rooms. The picture of the golden throne set between two golden pillars both decorated with dragons was the symbol of feudal and imperial power. There are 12 palace courtyards on either side. There are also three gardens - Longevity Garden, Kindness and Tranquility Garden and the Imperial Garden. They were the playgrounds of the imperial family.

Lunch then off to a pearl factory. Can you see all the pearls that are growing in the shell? Then we visited the Summer Palace and its beautiful gardens. The Summer Palace is the largest imperial garden in the world. It is classical Chinese garden architecture. The initial construction of the Summer Palace began in 1750, commissioned by Emperor Qinglong as a gift for his mother's birthday. The construction took 15 years to complete. It had the name "Qingyi Yuan" (Garden of Clear Ripples) at that time. The plundering of foreign troops in 1860 destroyed most of the buildings, but they were renovated in 1888 by Empress Dowager Cixi, who was said to have embezzled the funds of the Imperial Navy to build the garden. After China's liberation, the garden became a park and got the name Yiheyuan (Summer Palace). Spring was a bit delayed which totally depressed me because I was so looking forward to flower blossoms. I did see some along the trip but I know that nature has its own schedule. I could just imagine how this garden must smell and look like when in bloom. This evening we were treated to a dinner and dance presentation. They had a very unique way of pouring our tea for us as you can see.




  • New Eden
  • Kids Garden
  • Plant a Row Grow a Row