Cindy Keith in China.

From Vernon to the Great Wall

Contest winner Cindy Keith is sharing China through eyes while on a once-in-a-lifetime all-inclusive trip

Vernon’s Cindy Keith won a once-in-a-lifetime all-inclusive trip to China through Black Press Media and the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce and now she’s sharing her experience with you.

Blog #1: From Vernon to the Great Wall

By: Cindy Keith

We’ve sure have had a great start with the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce & trip partners Citslinc International and Transat Travel so far so good!

No doubt, intercontinental travel is inherent with the ups (anticipatory excitement for adventure) & downs (security hassles, delays & time changes) that go with it.

Knowing this, off our 46-strong group went, from Vancouver to Beijing (via Shanghai) and made the best of the endurance test! What stuck out most for me, was the on-board audiovisual differences!

Firstly, evidence that the entertainment industry is clearly growing in China has been well-documented in the media as of late with modern TV show series and films both domestic and partnering with Hollywood/North America there was a huge selection! I’d forgotten how much the emphatic, but melodic tones of the Mandarin language are so nice to listen to…so I delved right into a Shanghai International Film Fest fun flick “When Larry Met Mary”.

About 3/4 into the flight, all screens were silenced and an announcement came; describing that the risk of blood clots with prolonged flights would best be managed with a Tai Chi exercise. This led right into an instructed 10-minute passenger-encouraged class while seated! Most of our group was shy, but there was decent participation with Chinese passengers…nice! And so we arrived to our luxurious Sofitel Wanda Beijing (with the best breakfasts EVER!)!

This busy capital of the most populous country in the world the People’s Republic of China is a welcome energy (the fast pace works well to shake off the jet lag!).

This was my first time arriving by plane to China (22 years prior I’d travelled in via bus from Vietnam and left by train to Hong Kong) and I was ready with Chinese Renminbi (also called Yuan).

Looking around now, I sure do sense it’s much flatter than British Columbia 🙂 “Beijingers” seem friendly and proud to be in this political, cultural and historical centre!

I was expecting poor air quality, but apparently smog is at its worst in the winter, when the cold air creates an inversion and traps the pollution in the city, so it’s hopefully improving here now.

Our first day started with a tour of the Ming Tombs one of the 13 Ming Emperors’ Tombs is fully excavated and we explored it.

We then visited a jade then cloisonne (enamel covered copperware) factory such meticulous labour-intensive creations!

We then went on to tour The Great Wall our awesome guide Michael confirmed that it’s the most-visited international tourist site in Beijing and my personal favourite memory. It was really exciting to once again scale the old relic rocks; originally built to keep the Mongols out and protect China.

We next visited the 2008 Beijing Olympic venues! We had a view of the National Stadium (the Bird’s Nest) and the National Aquatic Centre. Neat fact: Beijing hosted the 2008 Summer Olympic Games ans will also host the 2022 Winter Olympics the only city to host both!

Our next day kicked off with a visit to the pearl market en route to the Summer Palace; known for boating on Kunming Lake, surrounded by a pagoda and lovely temples magical Emperor residences and a quiet retreat filled with treed gardens.

Next (drumroll please…), it was sure exciting to once again stand in the world’s largest public landmark Tiananmen Square. It’s the world’s largest public square; home to the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall and the Monument to the People’s Martyrs. also the site of the infamous massacre of student activists by the People’s Liberation Army in 1989.

It is surrounded by grand buildings including the Great Hall of the People, the Museum of Chinese History and of the Chinese Revolution and the Qianmen Gate. We then visited the most important palace bar none largely untouched by the cultural revolution, the Forbidden City.

It was home to the Imperial Court during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. I learned it was home to 24 emperors with a total space of 9,999 rooms!

The day of lots of walking ended with an extremely delicious Peking roast duck dinner. Without a doubt, I have NOT forgotten through the years, how incredible Chinese cuisine really is. What an honour!

Today, we visited the Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine Sciences for a workshop and foot massage then strolled around the Lama Temple (or Yonghe Lamasery); home of the 18-metre tall White Sandalwood statue of the Maitreya Buddha.

We next had a Hutong (Beijings ancient alleyways with traditional architecture of walled garden homes) tour for lunch. We lucked out in visiting the Beijing Zoo to see the Giant Pandas (my personal thrill!) before visiting the extensive Temple of Heaven which was built in 1420 A.D. for emperors to pray for a good harvest.

Alas, we must now depart this growing dynamic metropolis of 23 million people and counting to our next adventure!

🙂 Cindy

Stay tuned for her next blog post in a few days.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Brittny Anderson. Photo: Submitted
UPDATED: NDP’s Brittny Anderson named provisional winner in Nelson-Creston

The final result won’t be known until November due to mail-in ballots

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 18 COVID-19 cases, highest daily count since July

The total of COVID-19 cases in the region is now at 662

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Most Read