Note: I have been away for two weeks on an adventure. You will get a series of 50/50 blog posts. This is the post to set the stage:
At the outset of this year, I thought that turning 50 would involve many local memorable experiences, but that I would also need something that was international in scope. I also thought that a travel companion would be my good friend Gord B. He and I have known each other for about 20 years through the pipe band and work. We have traveled to Egypt and not only seen the Great Pyramids, but also got to go inside the pyramid. When I got working on my Masters, Gord was with me for the entire journey and gave so many of his weekends to help me succeed. He also came out to my graduation in Exeter, England.
I started thinking about where and we tossed the idea of Asia and then we were thinking of narrowing to where in Asia. Should it be Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore, China or a combination. We had two weeks at our disposal. Looking around, the choice started to come forward.
We decided on China and Singapore. China for two main reasons. First, I have always wanted to see the Great Wall, but we had an opportunity to not only see the Great Wall but to actually sleep in tents in a very remote part. Talk about something memorable. The other reason for China was that Gord is trained in martial arts and the foundation of his practice is through the Shaolin Temple in Zhang Zhou. Regrading Singapore, well, it is just an easy city to visit and tropical in nature. I could also do an alumni social there.
With that, the destinations were set. Oh, also what helped was that I used up my Aeroplan points for Gord and I. The destination would be Vancouver to Beijing, stay in China for 10 days and then Beijing to Singapore for 4 nights and finally home. So for Vancouver to Beijing; Beijing to Singapore; Singapore to Vancouver…it cost us each $111. Yes, I said $111!!! Then a good friend of mine, Sherwin C, works for Holiday Inn and said he could provide me the family and friends rate for Holiday Inn International. Our hotels ranged from about $60 in Beijing to about $130 in Singapore. Not a bad deal. So then we decided to spend our money on booking an epic tour.
As you will see, the tour that we booked included Beijing (Great Wall, Forbidden City) , Datong (Hanging Temple), Ping Yao (Ancient City), Zhang Zhou (Shaolin Temple) and Xi’an (Terracotta Warriors). We traveled by car and driver and between cities, by bullet train and air.
I hope you get to see China through my eyes and some of the extraordinary in the ordinary…as well as epic adventures. China is certainly a destination to visit if you would like to discover the ancient to modern, traditional to contemporary and socialism to capitalism. Regarding Singapore, the blending of cultures in a harmonious pallet. Regardless of where I travel, I get to meet interesting people who have smiles to share. I guess it does not hurt that I have smiles to share as well.
PS – I took this photo and it is of an incense flame at the Shaolin Buddhist Temple.