Our 4th Visits China with SCIC Beijing
Occupation: Retired (Tai Chi Teacher)
Trip Title: Tai Chi Study and Lijiang Trip
Trip Date: 9th September to 23rd September 2011
This was my fourth visit to China and it is unlikely to be my last. The cultures and peoples of this huge country are forever fascinating. I am able to thank my practice and devotion to the Chinese Arts of Tai Chi and Qigong for taking me to China in the first place
Over the years of my visits I have seen China changing as it has repositioned itself in the world economy. What is noticeable too, is that it is becoming easier to visit and travel around in this vast and amazing country. There is a growing convenience towards visitors and why not? Despite its current day modernity, China reveres its rich, ancient cultures and arts that so many of us wish to see and enjoy.
Independent travel to and in China then is an increasing possibility but an organised trip with a company such as SCIC Beijing is a wise and rewarding option especially for a first time visit. I have found Chen Lei, the founder of the SCIC Beiing and his colleagues have always been able to provide a full, varied and action packed itinerary giving good value for money and many, many memories to cherish. All this is done in an organised yet informal manner. Despite his obvious qualities as a businessman and martial artist, Chen is quite a "foodie" too and has got looking after western palates down to a fine art. The food on this trip was excellent wherever we went. Chen and his team can arrange multi location trips and for us, this time, we visited Beijing, and Xi'an. Whilst some of us, as returners, learned Tai Chi fan form with Chen, in Park, others were visiting the major attractions in and around Beijing-Tian an men Square, Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace and the Great Wall. These are all hugely impressive and such an integral part of the rich and colourful cultural history. If you want something modern then a shopping visit to the Silk Market to haggle for gifts and souvenirs can be a fun- if a bit manic for first timers – experience. A tip here is to head up several as soon as you arrive and then work your way down to break yourself in gently!
(Yunnan Province) is a world heritage site. Its wood beamed buildings, red lanterns, road side canals and cobbled streets are probably how most of us would picture an ancient Chinese scene. It is very picturesque being located too, in the foothills of the Himalayas. The area is also rich in ethnic groups who retain their old traditions, religions and even languages. Traditional dances and music occur in the streets and squares and are a delight. It is the location of the Black Dragon Pool - the iconic view of lake, pagoda and mountain that graces many a postcard, book and calendar. Equally impressive is the simple beauty and tranquility (if you get there at a quiet time) of the Jade Dragon Water Park.
All these make a very marketable tourist commodity, of course. A new high speed rail link is opening about now, a motorway is under construction and the airport has doubled in size since my last visit in 2007. One hopes doesn't lose its magic under an avalanche of tourism.
China has given the West the wonderful arts of Tai Chi and Qigong. The West has given China Starbucks! I am not sure this is a fare exchange but it was good to get a quality coffee in Xi'an before heading off to see the Terracotta Army. What an amazing sight the Warriors are and they are not done justice through pictures and travelling exhibitions. The re is a whole commercial industry built up around the Warriors and so many others historical sites – that you may take or leave but the pits and museums here are a must. But Xi'an is not just about the Army, it has its own great wall; one that runs around the old city area, complete with gates that feature historical buildings and marching guard displays by Tang dynasty soldiers. The Wild Goose Pagoda too offers history and a peaceful respite from the bustling city.
Believe it or not, all this and more was achieved in a 12 day trip. As I said, action packed and ultimately, sufficiently stimulating to ponder, almost immediately, where to visit when next coming to China. The possibilities many and so, so tempting I guess the only restrictions are time and money as always.