In October 2013, the Arlington Chamber of Commerce gave us a unique opportunity to go as a group to China for 10 days to explore the lovely cities of Beijing, Suzhou, Hangzhou, and Shanghai. The itinerary was full of all the famous places to see, fabulous hotels, and one of the best tour companies in the country to show us around.
Every day we were up with the sunrise and came back to the hotel after sunset. We had the opportunity to explore the four cities, learn about the history and see demonstrations of their impressive and gorgeous artistic talents. Our adventure consisted of 12-15 hour days of non-stop sight seeing. The participants’ nickname for our trip was “the Full-Contact Vacation.” Despite how exciting and interesting the itinerary was, there was no time for rest, or, according to the Chinese, no time to sleep like a ‘dead pig.’
Our first day was spent walking around one of the biggest man-made lakes in the world at the Summer Place. As a pleasant surprise, we were lucky enough to see the famous large rubber duck that has traveled all over the world and just so happened to be in Beijing while we were visiting. The most exciting of course, was the climbing the steps of the Great Wall. Pictures and words can only convey so much of the beauty and intensity of being at one of the Seven Wonders of the World. We climbed over 1000 steps that were tattered, broken, and uneven along with large mobs of tourists from all over the world. The Asian tourists seemed to be more interested in taking pictures with us than the Great Wall. They expressed their admiration for our Western features and their excitement to meet us while sharing minimal but memorable words of exhaustion while we climbed the Great Wall together.
Of course the highlights were the Great Wall, Tian An Men Square, the Forbidden City, and the famous flashing and sparkling lights of Shanghai at nighttime, but we were able to see so much more. The most impressive and intricate was seeing the process of making silk garments, rugs, and extremely detailed silk embroidery pictures. We were able to see the creation of jade carvings and cloisonné after wandering through gorgeous gardens and temples. We also got to learn about Chinese medicine and about the different grades of Green Tea. Although we saw many ‘interesting’ things to eat on the street, like scorpions, snakes, tarantulas, crickets, live chickens, and testicles (only to name a few), our food was provided through the tour company in abundance.
We shopped until we dropped (at least my family did), ate until we were stuffed, and walked until we couldn't walk anymore. At times I would look up at the high-rise buildings and the modern streets, and forget I was in China. After traveling to Asia many times but never to Mainland China, the itinerary full of fabulous site seeing seemed like a trip worthy of bringing the whole family.
Strategic Consulting Partners is a member of the chamber and a family business, so it was a great way for us to couple a family vacation with business networking with the other Chamber participants. It not only was a chance to network, but a great chance to build long lasting relationships with the other Chamber members. The cities, the people, and the history of this gorgeous country were so impressive and dynamic. I am so grateful to have had the amazing opportunity to see the progress, innovation, and intensity of China in person. It was truly a trip of a lifetime! :)
Editor’s Note: The Chamber’s China trip is made possible thanks to our partnership with Citslinc International, Inc. The Chamber plans to continue our international destination trips; for more information about future travel opportunities contact the Chamber email@example.com or 703-525-2400.