Long before Covid hit, Ejuan and I had the opportunity to tour Beijing, China, and Taipei, Taiwan. Family and friends were so nervous about our decision to vacation there. Many times, I believe we are fearful because of a lack of knowledge and exposure. Of course, there were language barriers, but we never felt unsafe.
Preparing for our first trip overseas
Now, let me be honest. When Ejuan first brought the idea of celebrating our wedding anniversary in China, I would say I was hesitant. Not so much that I was afraid, but more because I didn’t know what to expect. I immediately started researching both areas. The first thing I looked for was appropriate dress in China and Taipei. I read other blogs and watched vlogs to get more details. I began to pack based on the info I found. It was going to be super cold, so I also wanted to be prepared for that.
We chose to get immunizations that would help protect us from certain diseases. I had no plan to try anything unfamiliar, but I was prepared just in case.
The long flight to China
I was prepared for a long and uncomfortable flight. It was actually the opposite of everything I imagined. Now, I think we were the ONLY two Americans on the plane. I believe there was one other couple that spoke English, but they were not from America. However, none of that posed any challenges. All of the flight attendants spoke English.
I had packed all of the things I felt I needed to be comfortable and remain entertained. Little did I know, the plane was ready for me. I’d never flown overseas, and I didn’t take the time to research that part. We had all sorts of entertainment provided by the screens on the seats in front of us. You could choose TV sitcoms, movies, or music. I also brought playing cards, which Ejuan and I did use throughout the ride. I had my music and headphones as well.
We flew out in the the morning. Shortly after takeoff, the attendants came around with meals. I was both shocked and impressed to be getting a full-course breakfast. I fell asleep on the ride but eventually woke up to a tap accompanied by my next meal. I felt like I was in Heaven. The same happened for dinner. The ride was long, but it didn’t feel that way. The in-flight entertainment, my personal belongings, the amazing food, and fulfilling naps made it short.
Landing in a foreign land
The moment we landed, we hit the ground running, straight to the hotel. LOL! This trip was our first experience with jetlag, and we were exhausted. We took the subway, where most of the signs were in Chinese. However, we were able to manage and had no issues figuring out our way. We made it to the hotel, checked in, and called it a night.
Touring China’s historical landmarks
For the first day, we made our way to the Forbidden City. This place was the location where 24 Chinese emperors once lived. Because it was home for the emperors, the city was restricted from everyday people. However, today it welcomes locals and visitors from all over. The architectural designs of the buildings are magnificent. It’s definitely a sight to see.
It was so cold that the small bodies of water within the city were frozen over. I bought a mask to help cover my mouth and keep my teeth from being cold. I was wearing a mask before they were required. Funny, but not funny. Crazy how times have changed.
We became instant celebrities. I noticed a woman staring at us, and then she came up and signaled that she wanted pics. Ejuan and I thought it was the strangest yet coolest thing, so we were down for it. Once we did it for one, then people seemed to come out of nowhere. There’s no telling how many mantles, photo albums, and phones display our faces. LOL!
That night, Ejuan got tickets for us to see The Legend of Kung Fu at Red Theatre. This show was fantastic! Right before it started, we caught some of the performers. We watched along as they warmed up. Their flexibility was insane, and you can see the discipline required to perform on such an extraordinary level!
Let me tell you about the restroom toilet. NOBODY PREPARED ME FOR THAT! When I walked in and saw the site where you go, I was speechless. The situation was mindboggling to me. I did what I had to do, but it took some adjusting. It wasn’t until the end of the trip that I found out there were more options. Toilets that looked more like home were towards the back. Oh, and some areas charge for using their facilities. Just remember that you’ve been warned.
Booking a tour through the hotel is always a safe option.
One of the best and safest ways to go on excursions is booking through the hotel concierge. We went on a tour that lasted most of the day. We began the day at the Ming Tombs. The first emperor of the Ming Dynasty constructed his tomb here. Twelve of his successors built their resting places around him.
Next, we visited a jade factory where all of their products are made on-site. I found a cute pair of drop earrings that I usually only wear for special occasions. Ejuan purchased two jade bracelets. These pieces were the start of his bracelets from around the world that you will ALWAYS see him wearing.
The last stop of the day was the BEST, the Great Wall of China! After we arrived, we rode the lifts to get to the top. Because we were on the group tour, time was limited, so we could not walk a longer distance. Some of the areas were restricted because of ice around the walkway of the wall.
I saw a group of people staring, and I already knew what they wanted. I had gotten used to my celebrity status by then, LOL, so I waved for them to come over. They took turns getting their pictures with us. Ejuan and I thought it was the funniest thing ever.
Food in china
As I stated in the beginning, Ejuan and I had gotten vaccinations to help prevent us from getting sick. For the first day, I went with eating what looks familiar. Ejuan, on the other hand, dove straight in and chose a more traditional Chinese meal. We ate at the restaurant inside the hotel. I had an omelet, bacon, and potato wedges. Later on, we began to venture out. We found a restaurant across the street from the hotel. We purchased multiple entrees and sides to try. Once again, I chose something that reminded me of home. I mostly ate orange chicken, fried rice, low mein, and bread. Of course, Ejuan had to be unique. He ordered a pigeon, and it came with the whole body; head, beak, and eyes!
Food too unique for me
One night, we made the trek to the famous night market. This setup was like nothing I’d ever seen before. The vendors are lined up with all sorts of animals and insects. One of the first things they offered completely turned me off. They were frying dogs. My heart sunk. All I could think about was my pup back at home. Yes, I eat cow, chicken, etc., and I know someone feels terrible when I do that. However, this really hit different because it was unfamiliar territory for me.
We continued down the row, looking at all of the options. The way I see it if you can catch it, they had it ready to fry. I nearly freaked out at the spiders on a stick. I was so done then but supported the hubby because I knew he would try something. We connected with our first English-speaking American group there. They were just as hesitant as I was, so we all watched on as Ejuan tasted fried Starfish.
Traveling to our next destination
After several days in China, we caught a flight from Beijing to Shanghai, then a connecting flight to Taiwan. I was already beginning to see a difference between the two countries. One major thing was the weather. We went from freezing temps to a much warmer climate. Next, when we went to the subway, I saw ladies wearing daisy dukes. I’ll just say they weren’t leaving much to the imagination either. I felt like someone’s grandma with all of the pants and modest clothes I’d packed. I didn’t know anything more than what the internet had told me. Fortunately, they are more Americanized than the blogs and vlogs had given them credit for.
Our days in Taipei
Our first stop was Taipei 101. It was once the largest construction until Burj Khalifa was built in Dubai. The massive structure is hard to miss, and it beautifully lights up the area at night.
The next day we visited Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. This historical landmark was built in honor of the former President of the Republic of China, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. The scenery around the area is beautiful, and the location has had famous musicians perform there. We watched the changing of the guards, which happens at the top of the hour, from 10:00 to 16:00.
Our final day in Taiwan was dedicated to one of my favorite hobbies, SHOPPING! There were streets and streets of clothing vendors. It was a bargain shopper’s dream! At the same time, it was a bit overwhelming having so many options with a small budget and little time. That area alone is one of the main reasons I talk about going back. I often give away a lot of my clothing, but I still have several pieces from this trip.
Does China and Taiwan sound like places you’d like to see?
Until next time, I’ll leave you with this. There is so much to share, which has already made this post lengthy. I’m leaving off so many details, but I don’t want to overwhelm you. Therefore, I’ll stop here. However, I hope this information was enough to inspire you to plan your visit to China and Taiwan someday. Once the world is back to normal, or our new normal, please consider visiting both countries! They have been some of the BEST and most interesting places I’ve been to date. It’s great to be exposed to things that are uniquely different from what you’re used to. I cannot wait to go back! Disney in Shanghai is definitely on the list!