What to Expect: 4-Day Group Tour to Beijing China

4-day group tour in Beijing

4-Day Group Tour to Beijing China

First impressions about Beijing… it’s BIG!! Big. More than 250 million people live in the city and its surrounding suburbs. Imagine that. 322 million people are living in the entire United States. So you can imagine how we felt navigating around this city. And how grateful we were for the personal tour guide we hired. This post is a review of our group tour –glimpses into the people, food, and natural & man-made wonders around the city of Beijing, China.

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4-Day Group Tour to Beijing China

Why A Group Tour

We decided on a group tour for our first visit to China for a number of reasons. First, our tour guide was able to navigate the visa process much easier than us. And the price of the tour included this service. Its a bit unnerving to hand over our passport to a total stranger, but we felt confident it would be returned to us later.

Then there’s the safety in numbers aspect of traveling to a communist country. There are many more restrictions made on solo travelers. And lastly, and more importantly, we don’t speak Chinese. Since this is just a 4-day visit, we just don’t have the time to worry about accommodation, paying entrance fees, or planning for such a complicated trip.

The Long Lines

As a result of the population, the lines are long for just about EVERYTHING you do. The line in Tiananmen Square to pay respects to Chairman Mao was so long I couldn’t figure out where it started or ended. This was an amazing sight to see. How long would you stand in line to pay your respects to a fallen leader who just died? What about one who died almost 40 years ago?

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Big Brother Wa Always Watching

The second impression of Beijing was that no matter where you were Big Brother was watching.  This is definitely a Communist country. From the armed police in the airport to the ones patrolling the streets. Or the ones standing at attention on the wooden boxes on every street corner. Did I mention the massive number of cameras aimed in every direction and always a stone’s throw from a Mao poster or a symbolic red star?

Somebody was always watching or listening. I heard that someone mentioned they wanted some ice in their hotel room. Five minutes later they had ice.

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People are Communal

Unsurprisingly, Chinese people are communal. They don’t sit in their apartments alone or even in cafes. And they really like their tea. Subsequently, they prefer exercising in the parks, playing cards, mahjong, or tai chi.

I don’t know how true that story is, but I do know that the rigidity of Communist beliefs and the notion that the govt knows all was demonstrated daily by everyone I spoke to from my tour guide to the grocery store clerk to the guy who writes in the park that “the govt is good, listen to the govt” all day long in WATER.

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Curious and Friendly

I met extremely friendly people. And all of them asked me tons of questions. And none of them started with small talk. They get right down to the nitty-gritty stuff. I can’t write down some of the questions they asked because I’m keeping this post-PG rated. Incidentally, I was touched, hugged, tugged, called sister-friend, and pretty lady. So many people took my picture, I’m sure I trended that day.

I never felt unsafe. Matter of fact the locals were friendly if not very curious. In reality, their curiosity was only outmatched by their friendliness.

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  1. Kenya

    I liked how you talked about being able to tell that it is a communist country. China has always interested me. Hope to visit someday

    1. duffelbagspouse

      You know its not all Communist. There is plenty of commercialism in China now. I don’t expect it to last forever, the people want a better life… we’ll see.

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