Qing had arranged for a driver to meet us at the airport and take us to our hotel, and despite our flight being two hours late, he was there as promised and took us directly to our hotel.
We had arranged three day tours, and Lu, (Ashley) was our guide on all three days.
She was delightful – informative and relevant, speaking excellent English, and happy to give us all the time needed to explore and take photos as well as for comfort and shopping stops.
Our first trip was around Beijing, and on her advice we went to the Temple of Heaven first, where as well as the beautiful buildings and gardens, we saw the locals engage in their morning activities, t’ai chi, board and card games, crochet (their beautiful work was for sale at bargain prices) and many other social and sporting activities. Lu then guided us around a very crowded Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City (avoid Saturday if possible) giving us a great insight into the life of the emperor.
Next we ‘dined with the family’. We were led through a rabbit warren of passages to a courtyard house in a hutong, where Qing’s mum prepared a delicious lunch of pork, noodles and vegetables Beijing style, and treated us like old friends of the family. We saw the wedding photos, compared photos of our grandchildren, and had a lovely chat with Lu as our translator. It was one of the highlights of our trip to China. Our day finished with a visit to the Lama Temple and we returned to our hotel, heads brimming with experiences, but not exhausted or footsore. Our other two days were at the Great Wall at Mutianyu and the Ming tombs, and the LongQin gorge. Lu’s gentle delivery of information, the delicious lunches in out of the way( and dubious looking from the outside!) restaurants, and the absence of the enforced shopping factory visits that many other tours include, made our time in Beijing memorable, not just for its history and culture, but for the kindness and hospitality of its people. Highly recommended!
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