Originally written August 8, 2013
I’m Baaaaack! I have so much to share. It’s been an amazing month! The pinnacle of it all was an incredible journey that my family and I made… to China! Yes, that was my big secret which I was unable to leak. But now we’re home safely and, as my husband always jokes when we approach our house from a long trip, the windows are still intact and there’s no police tape surrounding it. A good sign! So where to begin? I suppose I should reveal how this adventure unfolded. My husband was asked to give a talk in Beijing and there happened to be a conference in Hong Kong that he was interested in. So he decided to make a trip of it and we happily tagged along! The other part I forgot to mention is that afterwards we went to Niagara Falls. Come again? It emerged that the cheapest and most direct flight was out of Toronto. So- we drove up to Canada, flew to Hong Kong, then Beijing, then back to Toronto, and hit Niagara Falls on the way back. Ready for some pictures?
The only benefit of being jet-lagged (after a 15 hour flight and a 12 hour time difference) is that we caught some beautiful sunrises- since we were wide awake! Hong Kong by day is pretty spectacular, too. It’s very modern, easy to navigate, and eclectic. It was a British Soverignty until 1997 and retains many of it’s western influences.
And yet Hong Kong is stuffed with old, traditional neighborhoods and quiet monasteries. We almost gave up on finding the one pictured above. The secluded pathway to it wound up the side of a steep hill, past colorful, rugged buildings with yelping dogs- then up a long staircase lined with golden Buddhas to an oasis of shrines with miniature Buddhas, well over 10,000!
I had to include this sign. Unfortunately, I never caught a glimpse of the said monkey. But it made me realize just how far away we were. Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore!
The Great Wall was as spectacular as it’s hyped up to be! As I had mentioned, it rained the day before so we were graced with a pristine blue sky and an awe-inspiring view. I had imagined that it would be quite a climb to get there but then a smooth walkway once we were up along the wall itself. Not so. There were literally thousands of little steps in all shapes and sizes any time there was an incline (or decline) and often leading up to the majestic towers along the wall.
But it was so worth it!
The site of the 2008 Beijing Olympics was quite impressive. It is mainly used as a tourist area now. We arrived there at Sunset, just as the Bird’s Nest and Aquatic Center became illuminated.
There were street vendors every way you turned peddling souvenirs and long rows of paper kites which were quite remarkable against the backdrop of the luminous Aquatics Center.
And like everything else in Beijing, it was humongous. A truly dazzling sight and much like the summer palace, every beam was carved and painted, every pathway carefully thought out, and no attention to detail left behind.
So after (only) a 12 1/2 hour flight from Bejing to Canada we arrived at the Toronto Airport and booked a room at the airport hotel so that we could crash. But we were up at dawn and eagerly made our way down to Niagara Falls before heading home. What a Marvelous Sight!
We couldn’t have chosen a more ideal way to end our vacation. The falls were stunning and mesmerizing- a soothing antidote to our jet lag! It has taken us awhile to adjust and re-enter life back home. I think it will take even longer to process all that we’ve experienced. But each time we sort through our photos, hand out our souvenirs, and tell our stories, our adventures are slowly unravelling and embedding themselves into our memories. Do you like to travel? Please comment below and tell me a story about your own adventures with a foreign culture. Also tune in next week as I share further in-depth impressions and inspiration gleaned from our trip to China. Until then, Have A Safe And Tranquil Week! (without tripping on any thresholds!)