Summer Palace the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square

My Thursday started with an amazing breakfast, but that deserves it’s own post! I’m super impressed with the spread and I can’t wait to enjoy it again tomorrow.


First a quick answer to the question I keep getting – “Why China??!?!”

No. I am not here for the Great Wall Marathon race. (I have looked into it and it’s super expensive, but would be awesome.) I’m actually on a ‘normal’ getaway. I really wanted to do something different from anything else I’ve done before. I’ve been to a lot of Central America. I love Asian food and culture and history. I wanted to learn something and see something new. So, China.

Okay back to regularly scheduled programing…

Thursday was a raspberry jam packed day. First our group went to the Summer Palace.


It is on gorgeous grounds and surrounded by a man-made lake. That lake is frozen right now though.

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There were locals doing a tai-chi dance with a ball on a tennis racket that looked super graceful and fun. I wanted to join in, but our group was moving on to the next stop.


Part of the reason I wanted to go to China was all of this history and ancient art. There was a ton of it today!


On the top of the mountain is the Temple of Buddha’s Fragrance. We didn’t climb up to it unfortunately.



Lunch was an optional ‘tour’ organized by our tour group to eat at a local family’s house. I kinda didn’t want to do this because I thought it must be fake. Peep pressure got me to do it and I’m really glad I did.



Everything was family style and we ate out of small rice bowls and just piled on more as the dishes came out.


I didn’t get pictures of all the dishes, but had to stop everything to capture this – Tempura Carrots. They were the BEST thing I’ve had so far on this trip.


It was at a tiny house we all packed into and ate home cooked Chinese food. (This is the room after our feast.)


The family only spoke Chinese so our guide translated for us and we chatted with them for a bit. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Next stop – Tiananmen Square!


It is HUGE – big enough for one million people to gather. Crazy. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Right behind the square is the Forbidden City. This is where the Emperor lived and conducted his political affairs.



  1. says

    What an awesome experience! I absolutely love China. My hubby and I lived near Shanghai for a year and the country captured my heart. Are you visiting any other Chinese cities?

  2. Margaret says

    oooh, I’m going to China in April, getting so excited reading your posts. A little nervous about the bathroom situation, not gonna lie :)

  3. says

    I commented a few days ago about China and the internet, because my boyfriend was just there. He’s been to Asia a few times, but the food part reminded me about how he gained 10 lbs eating out there. Haha. The food is GOOD. Enjoy! (By the way, he dropped the weight when he came home to his normal routine…not to scare you.)

  4. Tami says

    Your trip looks incredible! China has been on out bucket list for travel for a while now. I’d be interested in which tour company you chose. Enjoy your trip and stay warm!

  5. april says

    i am completely reliving my trip to china through your blog posts! i went on the same china tours trip with my mom in late november and LOVED it. :) the hotel breakfasts were so good and seemed to get better in each city! as much as i loved beijing, i was an even bigger fan of shanghai. have fun and i hope you & ben enjoy your trip!

  6. Megan says

    So I know you’re super busy and having an awesome time (duh!) but when you get back you should do a post on what you think of the Groupon travel experience. I get the emails all the time and thought they’d be cool, just didn’t have the guts to pull the trigger. Would be interesting to see if you thought the deal was as good as advertised!

  7. says

    Amazing — seriously. I may or may not have been one of those people who was a little curious as to “why China?” But you are proving this skeptic WRONG.

  8. Lori says

    Good for you and Ben for venturing far away from the usual tourist spots for your vacation getaway! Takes real guts and a very open mind to go someplace where you don’t read, write or speak the language, but it’s a trip you will never forget.
    We’ve been to Beijing and Xi’an to see the Terra Cotta Warriors. Our son, who is currently a junior at UNF in Jacksonville, FL will be studying at the University of Xi’an for all of next school year (his minor is Mandarin and it’s a tough language to learn). We are so excited to meet him mid-year next year in Shanghai or Hong Kong to have him translate for us!
    Have fun and soak it all in!

  9. says

    So cool!! What an awesome trip!! I’m hoping to go cross country this summer! :) Hoping to visit California! :) We’ll see … fingers are crossed!!

  10. says

    Looks so great! I lived in Shanghai for a bit and am moving back in a few weeks. Like you, I love the culture and the chance to experience new things. China is a fascinating (and crazy) country that certainly fits the bill. Have fun!

  11. says

    Your stops kind of look like the same that my friend and her husband did on their honeymoon earlier this year! They got the group trip through one of those Groupon-like sites! The only thing they didn’t like about it is that every new spot ended with a “tour” of a market or jade place where really they just want you to but stuff LOL. Your pics plus theirs from when they went have me reeeeally wanting to go! Looks like you’re having an awesome time! Safe trip!

  12. Christina says

    Amazing! So wish I traveled like this before 3 children! Now it’s so expensive. That family so amazing to open their home like that.

  13. Nico says

    I’m sure the tour guide didn’t mention this (as the Chinese gov’t had prohibited remembrance or discussion of this event) but Tiananmen Square is known for the “Tiananmen Square Massacre” where an estimated million people had gathered to protest…in response, hundreds of thousands were killed by military force. So it just made me cringe a little when you posted “It is HUGE – big enough for one million people to gather. Crazy.” :\ Just wanted to give a heads up.

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