China should be high on your travel bucket list, despite its distance from the U.S., because of its diverse geography, impressive culture and hospitability to tourists, at least in its major cities and attractions.
Hence, despite having travelled extensively, we were excited after our 14-hour flight from New York on an Air China 747 rolled up to the gate at the gorgeous new Beijing International Airport.
Over the next nine days, we would experience both modern and historical China, a land of many surprises.
With our English-speaking guides, we toured Beijing and environs for three days for just a tantalizing taste of this capital with 22 million people.
We visited amazing sights like the Forbidden City and the nearby segment of the Great Wall, ate in many different restaurants, including the one that served Peking Duck to Henry Kissinger and Zhou Enlai.
In the process, we had ample opportunity to observe diverse neighborhoods and experienced world-class rush hour traffic and air pollution first-hand. We even had some free time to explore neighborhoods on foot without a guide.
The people were generally friendly and as curious about us as we were about them.