A Time In Beijing
There are cities in the world that everyone should visit. Beijing is one of them. There is so much to see and so much to do, that the traveler must ensure that enough time is set aside so that you are not frustrated or have regrets for not seeing all that one must see.
We use a travel company, Gate 1, for nearly all of our worldly travels. Now I am not directly promoting them, even though we have had many great trips with them, but I do urge you to evaluate their prices and itineraries.
We arrived in Beijing in the afternoon after the standard lengthy flight from Los Angeles which is par for the course of any Asian trip from the United States. For that matter, even for most trips that originate in Europe and Africa.
Our Gate 1 tour guide, Frank, met us at the airport and was kind enough to have bought Subway sandwiches for our arrival snack. We instantly liked this man not only because he was thoughtful enough to get us a snack but also because he spoke such good English. We checked into our hotel and after freshening up a bit, we joined Frank and the other tour members for dinner.
The next morning our tour of Beijing would begin after a very hearty breakfast, a mix of Asian, European and American fare. We boarded a very comfortable bus and were taken to a center where artisans were carving all sorts of objects from all sorts of stone material. It was amazing just watching them as they created some wonderful pieces of art. Our guide Frank entertained us with stories of his youth and life in China. It was quite educational. We would soon be back on the bus, headed for a spot that is on every world travelers bucket list– The Great Wall of China.
We had not traveled very far by bus when we entered the mountain range of nearby Beijing. And almost immediately we could see the ribbon-like structures of the Great Wall as it snaked up and down the mountains. I was anxious to get off the bus and plant my feet on this iconic achievement of man’s skills and technology.
We didn’t have to wait long before the bus stopped and we began walking from the parking lot upwards toward the wall. We were given a choice: take the high road or take the low road. The high road was a steep climb but afforded a spectacular view, while the low road was much flatter and less steep so that even a person not in the best condition could walk along the Great Wall. We chose the high road.
The two photos above show the “low” road, which is easier to climb yet still has some amazing views. The photos below were taken from the “high” road, a bit more strenuous but well worth the trek if your health is good.
Above, it seems that the Great Wall of China is on many people’s bucket list of places to see. And for some reason, we humans just have to deface great places just to show that we were there.
Below, the small village and meeting point where the trek up the Great Wall begins and when the trek is over, a place where souvenirs of your adventure can be had.
Above, the Empress of China, actually my lovely wife, dressed in Chinese attire after our trek up the Great Wall.
Below, after our visit to the Great Wall, we headed to the Beijing Zoo.
Above and below, the rare Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens), also called the lesser panda, the red bear-cat, and the red cat-bear. It is roughly the size of a domestic cat, though with a longer body and somewhat heavier, and is arboreal, feeding mainly on bamboo, but also eats eggs, birds, and insects. It is a solitary animal, mainly active from dusk to dawn, and is largely sedentary during the day.
The Red Panda has been classified as endangered because its wild population is estimated at less than 10,000 mature individuals and continues to decline due to habitat loss, poaching, and inbreeding.
A visit to China would not be complete without seeing the Giant Panda. Although nearly impossible to see in their natural habitat which is high in dense bamboo forests in the misty, rainy mountains of southwestern China, seeing them anywhere is still a major treat. The Beijing Zoo is very proud of its Giant Panda’s and its habitat is very good by zoo standards. The Giant Panda is one of the world’s rarest mammals and only about 1,500 of these black-and-white relatives of bears survive in the wild. Pandas eat almost nothing but bamboo shoots and leaves which has contributed to their decline due to natural habitat destruction.
Above and below, the habitat of the Beijing Duck and Chinese Swan in the Beijing Zoo.
Below, we couldn’t help dressing in Chinese attire for a memorable photo souvenir of our visit to the Great Wall. It may be a bit tacky, however, you can never tell if you will ever be here again and to regret not having taken this photo would have probably been remorseful in the future.
A visit to Beijing, China can fulfill many items on your bucket list. First and foremost, to see China and all of its magnificence should be at the top of any bucket list. Secondly, the spectacular city of Beijing where the Olympics were held should be on your list of top places in the world to see. Third, and arguably it should be high on any bucket list is to not only see the Great Wall of China but to actually step foot on it and climb a section of it. And to actually see a Panda bear in China, whether in their spectacular zoo or in the wild, will be a major drop in the bucket.
All photographs are the copyright of Jim Jackson Photography, please contact me for authorization to use or for signed, high-resolution copies.