One of our most memorable trips was to China and Tibet. We left Denver in Early September, 2005, flew to San Francisco and from there took an overnight flight through Hong Kong to Beijing. This was a trip sponsored by Elderhostel and once we arrived in Beijing we were met by our tour manager who remained with us for the entire tour. We did not have to make any decisions since everything including all our meals and tips was included. Our tour manager was with us every minute in case anything happened and we were asked to please tell him if we had any problems, including illness so that he could help us do whatever was necessary.

Our tour included lectures by local professors almost every day on the area we were visiting. In addition we had local tour guides every time we changed locations. These people usually lived in the area we visited and were very familiar with all the ethnic groups and customs of that region. We also had Tai-Chi instruction early in the morning when it was practical either by an expert instructor or our tour manager who was also very capable. In the evenings we had optional Chinese language instruction by our tour manager. There were cultural musical and dance performances during the trip that were most enjoyable and of course unforgettable visits to several museums. We also visited two University Fine Arts Colleges for demonstrations of ancient musical instruments and folk dances.

We ate typical Chinese food at every meal served in the traditional Chinese way. This included a large round table that seated eight to ten people. The food was placed in the center of the table on a very large round lazy susan. Each platter contained enough food for each person to have a small serving. There would be sometimes up to twenty different dishes served at most meals including several kinds of meat (chicken, pork, beef and fish), platters of vegetables that might be steamed or stir fried, always soup served near the end of the meal and of course rice and tea. In addition local beer was also served with each meal except breakfast. Breakfast was supposed to be western style but it had quite an asian flair with a few dishes that were totally unfamiliar to us. There was usually fruit and cold cuts. Sometimes eggs (most likely hard boiled) but in Tibet a chef fixed omelets every morning for those who wanted them. Sometimes there would be a separate buffet set up in the hotel for asian guests.

We visited a number of cities in addition to Beijing. The trip was carefully planned to acclimate us to increasingly higher altitudes in preparation for the trip to Lasha, Tibet, a city at 12,000 feet in elevation. We were also scheduled to go to a Tibetan village that was at 14,000 feet. To avoid altitude sickness we would spend some time at Da Li and Lijiang, cities at 7,000 and 9,000 feet respectively. Since we live at over 8,000 feet we were not very concerned about the altitude but we could definitely tell the difference in Tibet.

After leaving Tibet we embarked on a four day cruise down the Yangtze River that was relaxing as well as informative. We made several stops, the Red Pagoda, a side trip down an arm of the Yangtze on a smaller boat and of course the Three Gorges dam. Leaving the Yangtze a short flight brought us to Shanghai where we also had several interesting tours and a performance of the Acrobats of China who are trained here in a special school.

We left Shanghai and returned to the United States almost a month after our tour began. It has been for us the trip of a lifetime and the memories will remain with us forever.

To travel with us around China, click on the links on the left or above.

Celia Bell 2012