Discovering The Heart & Soul Of The Middle Kingdom
China and Tibet are complete with rich, fascinating histories, stunning landscapes, time-honoured traditions and a colorful array of friendly people. China and Tibet are at the heart of the mystical and alluring Far East.
Buddhism dominates here, but we will also discover that there is a very strong Christian following amongst many Chinese as well as amongst the many foreigners living and working here. Our tour will be escorted by a fellow Christian, Ryan Reid, who, not only speaks Chinese but also lived and worked in China as a teacher and with the UN Refugee Agency. Not only will he show us the tourism highlights of these two countries, but Ryan will also take us on visits to a Christian-run Orphanage and to a Christian-run Centre that helps urban children of migrant workers when we are in Beijing.
Also during our stay in Beijing, we will be able to celebrate our faith and fellowship together at the Beijing International Christian Fellowship Church, one of the most diverse churches in the world.
Fly North America to Beijing
Welcome to the People's Republic of China! On arrival in Beijing, we are met by Goway's local representative and transferred to our hotel. The remainder of the day is free. China is a land with a long and varied history, from the times of the Dynasties to the emerging giant of today. We will marvel at the contrasts and the mysteries waiting to be discovered. Our journey will give us time to experience the lively cities, the enthralling countryside and, above all, the friendly, smiling Chinese people. Dinner tonight is at the hotel. D
Accommodation: New Otani Chang Fu Gong Hotel (4 nights)
After breakfast, we join our guide for a full-day tour of Beijing. Beijing has been the capital of the nation for the last seven centuries. Today with a population of over 10 million, Beijing is the political, cultural and administrative centre of the People's Republic of China.
Our first stop this morning is Tian An Men Square, the largest public plaza in the world. Located in the heart of Beijing, Tian An Men Square was first built in the Ming Dynasty. It measures over 500 meters from east to west, more than 800 meters from south to north and covers an area of 440,000 square meters. The Square includes the Great Hall of the People, the museums of the Chinese Revolution and Chinese History and Chairman Mao Zedong's Memorial Hall.
We'll have time to see the permanent reviewing stands where China's leaders preside over the mass rallies and parades in the square. It was here that Chairman Mao proclaimed the birth of the People's Republic of China in 1949. From the Square, we head to the Forbidden City, whose acres of splendid 15th Century halls and pavilions graced with imperial treasures now comprise the Palace Museum. The Forbidden City was built during 1406 - 1420 AD as the residence for the Ming and Qing Dynasty emperors - altogether 24 emperors lived here. It is now the world's largest and best-preserved imperial palace, which boasts rare relics of over 1,050,000 pieces.
After our touring, we have a special afternoon as we head to the outskirts of Beijing to visit the New Day Creations Orphanage and Foster Home that specializes in caring for children with special needs. Dinner this evening at a local restaurant. BLD
A day we will not forget! Our coach takes us out of Beijing to the Great Wall of China, the only man-made object visible to the naked eye from outer space. The wall was built in the fifth century B.C. to protect China from the aggressive northern Tartars. Winding six thousand kilometres through Northern China, the Great Wall stands 6.5 meters high.
Towers 11 to 12 meters high were built into the wall every 180 to 270 meters. Its sides are made of earth, brick and stone and the top of the wall is paved with bricks set in a line to form a path for soldiers and horses. We have time to walk on this awe-inspiring structure before returning to our hotel later in the afternoon. Tonight enjoys a traditional Peking Duck Banquet. BLD
This Sunday morning we take time to celebrate our faith with fellow Christians at the Beijing International Christian Fellowship Church, one of the most diverse international churches in the world with over 60 countries represented. After worship, we begin our touring with a visit the Temple of Heaven, another masterpiece of Ming Dynasty architecture. This blue-tiled temple exemplifies Chinese perfection of form and space and was built to be used for important rituals designed to perpetuate the rule of the Ming Dynasty. Many of the articles used at the ceremonies, including musical instruments, are on display. While at the Temple of Heaven we will practice our Tai Chi with a master.
After lunch, we stop at the prestigious Summer Palace where we will enjoy the vast gardens and lush greenery while taking a boat ride on the man-made lake. After our boat ride we will be transferred back to our hotel. The remainder of the afternoon is free to explore on your own. Dinner this evening is at the hotel. BLD
Fly Beijing to Lhasa
This morning we will be transferred to the airport for our flight to Lhasa. Upon arrival, we will be met and transferred to our hotel. Lhasa City in Tibetan language means 'Holy City'. It is the capital of Tibet which dates back to 7th century AD when King Songtsen transferred his capital from Yarlung to Lhasa. BLD
Accommodation: Lhasa Hotel (3 Nights)
After breakfast we will board our coach and travel to the famous Potala Palace, one of the oldest and largest structures in Tibet. The construction of the palace was started by King Songtsen Gumpa in the 7th century for his two newly wed wives. The palace was used by the king as a retreat for meditation till his death. The palace also suffered heavy loss due to several wars and lightning strike and later reconstructed by the order of 5th Dalai Lama in 1645.
After lunch, we visit one of the most important religious and spiritual centers in Tibet – the Jokhang Temple. The huge Jokhang complex was built in the 7th century to house the Sakyamuni Statues brought as wedding gifts during the Tang Dynasty. The Jokhang temple is rightly erected in the center of the ground which was earlier a lake. The lake was chosen as the site after many attempts failed to build a temple in the region. Every time a structure was erected, it would collapse on its own.
Everybody was surprised by this unusual turn of events. Princess Bhirkuti then approached Princess Wen Cheng who was more knowledgeable than others. She pointed out that the topography of the city was not very conducive to construction due to the presence of lake. She advised that the lake should be filled and leveled up. You will be amazed to know that more than 1000 sheep's were used to bring soil from a mountain quite a distance away. And after the temple was build, it came to be known as Ra-Sa- Vphrul Snang.
In Tibetan language, 'Ra' means sheep and 'Sa' means earth. The city around also was called Ra-Sa, which now is known as Lhasa. Our final visit of the day is on ancient Barkhor Street, now a popular market street where you will find more traditional Tibetan artifacts in small roadside shops. Buddha figures, prayer flags copper teapots, horse bells and jewelry inlaid with turquoise will certainly tempt you. BLD
This morning we will enjoy a short educational lecture on Lamaism and Tibetan Art and Culture. Tibet has the richness and the depth of its traditions that is deep rooted in its cultural heritage. The wisdom, the knowledge about life, compassion, tolerance and peace of mind, all contribute in making the culture of Tibet.
The simplicity of life, the spirituality of minds and rich customs and traditions give a stronghold to this alpine region which is entirely bedecked with its holy charisma. People of Tibet consider paintings as a strong medium for spreading their knowledge and religion to all possible parts of the world. Most of the paintings portray an unshakable belief of people in Buddhism and the way they lead their life. After our lecture, we take time to visit the Tibet Museum for a short tour before stopping at a local restaurant for lunch.
This afternoon we are off to visit Norbu Lingka Palace, meaning "Treasure Park".
The construction of the palace started in the 1740s and has been both renovated and enlarged with the succession of a new Dalai Lama. Our final stop today is at the Sera Monastery, one of the great Gelugpa monasteries. Founded in 1419 by Jamchen Choje, one of the eight disciples of Tsongkhapa and the founder of the Gelugpa Sect, the monastery is imposing and picturesque. The Buddhist Scriptures found here are priceless. BLD
Drive Lhasa to Shigatse
This morning we board our coach for the drive-through spectacular mountain passes to Shigatse, Tibet's second-largest city and home town of the Panchen Lama. En route, we stop to visit Yamdroktso Lake, one of the 3 most holy lakes in Tibet. The lake is a coiling, many-armed body of water shaped like a scorpion. It doubles back on itself on its western side, effectively creating a large island within its reaches. After our lake visit, we stop to visit the 15th-century mountain-enclosed Palkhor Monastery. At the Monastery, all 3 sects of Buddhism - Shaja, Ningma and Guolu - were practiced harmoniously. BLD
Overnight: Shigatse Hotel (1 night)
Drive Shigatse to Lhasa
Our journey back to Lhasa today takes us first to the Tashilumpo Monastery, a 300,000 m² complex that sprawls over the slopes of Mt. Niser. Many valuable and rare historical articles are housed in the monastery. Here we will also have time to stroll the traditional village streets to soak the atmosphere, meet the locals and shop in the many street stalls. Later this afternoon we arrive back in Lhasa and our hotel. BLD
Overnight: Lhasa Hotel (1 night)
Fly Lhasa to Shanghai
We transfer to the airport this morning to connect with our flights to Shanghai, one of the world's largest cities with a population of more than 12 million. Shanghai played no role in the glorious days of the Chinese empire until the coming of the British opium fleet to Chinese waters in the 19th century. Shanghai was then jolted from being a quiet commercial backwater to becoming a thriving industrial metropolis. Shanghai's identity, even today, is still inextricably linked with those treaty port days. The Treaty of Nanking in 1842 opened Shanghai, as a free port, to western trade and influence demarcated by foreign concession areas, distinctly visible to this day. On arrival, we are met and transferred to our hotel. BD
Overnight: Okura Gardens (3 nights)
After breakfast, we join fellow Christians in celebration at a local Sunday Service. Later we join our full-day city tour to explore the many facets of this amazing city. A stroll along the Bund, the legendary waterfront area of the British Concession, will give us a taste of how life must have been in the thirties and forties. Before stopping for lunch at a local restaurant, we take time to visit famous Yu Garden situated in the old Chinese quarter of the city.
The Gardens date from the Ming Dynasty and are serene spots combining the grace of water, the wonder of stone and the beauty of plants. This afternoon we visit the Shanghai Museum. The museum's style and presentation surround visitors with artifacts demonstrating ancient wisdom and philosophy. The museum is divided into eleven galleries and three exhibition halls. The eleven Galleries cover most of the major categories of Chinese art: Ancient Bronze, Ancient Ceramics, Paintings, Calligraphy, Ancient Sculpture, Ancient Jade, Coins, Ming and Qing Furniture, Seals, and Minority Nationalities. This evening we enjoy a performance of the world-famous acrobatic show. BL
A full-day tour takes us by road to the "Venice of the East" – the ancient city of Suzhou. We'll experience the cheerful chaos of river life while we cruise the Grand Canal. Later we visit the beautiful Ornamental Gardens as well as a well-respected silk factory.
Late afternoon arrival back to our hotel in Shanghai. BD
Fly Shanghai to North America
We have a free morning for last-minute shopping before we transfer to the airport to connect with our flights home. If you have the time, why not stay longer and Join our optional Yangtze River Cruise or our optional stop in Hong Kong. B
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