Month: March 2014

Two Days in Beijing

Beijing was the first stop on our trip to China and we allowed two full days for the visit. On the first day in Beijing, we got up early and headed to Jingshan Park to watch the elders practice tai chi. The park is peaceful and has a great view of the Forbidden City to the south. We entered the Forbbiden City through the northern Divine Might Gate and ended our visit through Meridian Gate which opens up to Tiananmen Square. The Forbidden City gets its name from the fact that no one could  enter or leave the palace without the permission of the emperor. Except for a few annexes, a lot of the buildings in the complex are closed. The outside of Meridian Gate is heavily guarded and features a portrait of former leader Mao Zedong. We walked around the sombre Tiananmen Square and then got on the subway for the Summer Palace.    The Summer Palace is another Chinese architectural achievement but this one’s got a woman’s touch. The palace was rebuilt in 1886 and 1902 to serve as a summer resort for Empress Dowager …

Exploring Yangshuo

Yangshuo is a county in Guangxi Province near the city of Guilin. The area is popular because of its karst peaks and beautiful scenery. We reached Yangshuo is by taking a river cruise on a bamboo raft from Guilin down Li River. Visually, it’s an incredible experience. The color of the water and the reflection of the peaks are surreal. Streets in Yangshuo still preserve their ancient layout dating 1000 years back. The town of Yangshuo is popular with tourists and the locals have responded with a variety of hotels, bike rental shops, souvenir markets, and food stalls with local delicacies. Whatever the town lacks in authenticity, it makes up for in its surrounding natural beauty.    Hiking and biking are popular activities in Yangshuo. We climbed the nearby Moon Hill, unique for its natural arch and semicircular hole in the middle. Although I found the hike challenging, I was amazed at the local vendors that kept up the pace in the hopes of selling us refreshments once we reached the peak. The climb is worth it because the views …