A full-on, cultural, historical and fun-packed introduction to China which, despite having returned some weeks ago, I am still processing. A real-eye-opener for our teenagers and ourselves; the Chinese really do everything on a massive scale from the endless courtyards of the Forbidden City, the rows and rows of Terracotta Warriors and the incredible Wall to the 6 ring roads and endless tower blocks of modern Beijing. A completely fascinating trip which we will all be talking about for a long time.
- What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
Hate to be a cliche but nothing can prepare you for the Wall, its sheer scale is incredible and when you consider when it was built without all of our modern engineering techniques, it really is an awesome achievement snaking over the mountain tops. The wall trek was greatly enhanced by the fact that we went to a quiet, less touristy section of the wall and saw very few other tourists. My 14 year old son said the Wall trek was worth the airfare alone!
The Teracotta Warriors are also quite incredible, so lifelike and the sheer scale of the excavation is astounding.
The Pandas are great and my younger son will carry the memory of being allowed to hold a panda for the rest of his life - he didn't stop grinning for days.
The cooking lesson is great fun and in the most beutiful location.
Finally, for me driving through the Karst mountains late at night as the peaks were bathed in moonlight was magical.
- What did you think of your group leader?
- Annie was fantastic, there is an enormous amount of organisation on this trip (just so relieved i wasn't doing it!) and Annie managed to shepherd us everywhere without getting stressed or rushing us. Her historical knowledge was quite astounding, I don't think there was a single question about Chinese history that she couldn't answer! Just everything you want in a guide, excellent English, calm, organised, caring and with a great sense of humour.
- Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
There is a serious amount of travelling on this trip, they should subtitle it, 'Planes, Trains and Automobiles (and buses, trams, bikes, rickshaws and boats!) and personally I think children under 10 might struggle with the pace and having to transfer luggage through stations car parks etc. although this always depends on the child of course!. We had the most amazing time but were all seriously exhausted when we got home so book yourself an extra couple of days off for recovery!
Food was fantastic and vegetarians and kids were well catered for.
We went in mid-august and it was very hot and humid everywhere so take your water cans (and mini loo rolls)!
The extra excursions and shows were all great, kids loved the Kung Fu and I thought the show after the dumpling banquet was simply beautiful. The sheer scale of the Light Show in Yangshuo is jaw-dropping so make sure you have enough cash for the extras.
- Is there anything else you would like to add?
Exodus need to keep their trip notes updated, Annie told us that kite flying in Tiannamen square has been banned for 2 years! We tried to fly kites at the Temple of Heaven but to be honest I think it should be dropped from the itinery altogether, it wouldn't be missed.
This is a fabulous introduction to China with a great balance between Culture, History and stuff for the kids (perhaps a bit culture heavy for younger kids) - what an experience!