Viator Tour Fails to Produce What It Promised

night market stalls

Every once in a while, you hit a tour that over-promises and under-delivers. Perhaps the copywriter got carried away. Perhaps the copywriter never took the tour. Perhaps our interpretation of the wording was wrong. However, when Viator tours promoted  a “Small-Group Beijing Street Food Tour at Night Including Dumpling Making”, we expected something  different from [Read more …]

Beijing. How Much Did the Olympics Change the City Versus the Growing Economy?

flowers for holiday 03

The last time we were in Beijing (albeit 15 years ago), we remember lots of small shops along most streets, with the men playing mahjong, the children watching TV and the women washing or doing other work (while the men played, which really irked Joyce).Those tiny local shops selling homemade goods have been replaced by [Read more …]

Beijing’s Summer Palace


We all like to have a summer retreat….a place to go to get away from the heat and just indulge ourselves. And if you were royalty, your retreat could be built in a prime location and decorated according to your whim. If you think life in the Forbidden City was indulgent, you haven’t visited the [Read more …]

Forbidden City

Forbidden City from outside

No trip to Beijing is complete without a trip to the Forbidden City, the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty. Unlike the rest of Beijing, the Forbidden City has not changed from our last trip (other than for a huge, ongoing, decade-long restoration project), including Mao’s [Read more …]

Beijing Hutongs. See Them While You Can

Hutong 01

No trip to Beijing is complete without touring through hutongs, ancient Mongolian-style neighborhood built around a grid-based system of alleys. While they still existed in Beijing, many have been replaced by new housing. Some people prefer to move into the newer housing, but there are pockets of resistance against the government trying to force them [Read more …]

Dining out in Beijing

Live scorpions at food market Beijing

Beijing has a a lot of “fast food”. Yes, it has McDonalds, KFC, Burger King and their own local fast-food restaurants. But it also has a preponderance of street fast food–vendors selling items grilled on sticks that people can eat while walking down the street. Some are targeted strictly at tourists, such as scorpion, sea [Read more …]

110 Days in Asia

duck kitchen

At last. After hundred and hundreds and hundreds of hours of planning, scheduling, making reservations, and stressing, we have taken off on a 110 day trip to Asia. 15 countries…if you count Tibet and Hong Kong as separate countries and I counted right. One 22” suitcase for each of us, crammed full (and I mean [Read more …]