I mentioned previously that Anne and I aren't normally prone to taking guided tours, but do so when we are visiting countries where the culture and language is very different from our own, like China. Our primary reason for not liking escorted tours deals with freedom and choices. On guided tours you are not free to do what you want and you can't make individual choices to control your activities. Your are always subject to the schedule and the others on the tour. On this, our first day of sightseeing in China, we would again justify that tours are not always wonderful.

Arriving at Tiananmen Square our escort and local guide provided very good briefings of what we were seeing and about to see in the Imperial Palace. I missed most of these discussions because I was busy making the best of the opportunity to take pictures. I learned quickly you can't listen and take pictures too, there just isn't enough time. Having discussed an item of interest they quickly moved onto the next item of interest. This wasn't a problem while in Tiananmen Square and going through the initial parts of the Imperial Palace. While it was interesting the photographic opportunities were limited, in part, because of the weather and just the nature of the subject. But, at the very end of the walk through we entered what I consider to be the most beautiful part of the Imperial Palace, the gardens. Apparently the tour company did not share this same feeling. We had less than ten minutes to enjoy the garden before having to leave for the bus. What a disappointment that was. John and I could have spent hours there just photographing the beautiful things we saw.

The first thing to catch our attention were beautiful gnarled trees lining one of the walkways. The patterns in the gnarled wood were absolutely beautiful and interesting to look at and photograph.

Leaving the Imperial Palace grounds we passed through severl ornate gates and long, narrow walkways

Thousand Autumn Pavillion
Imperial Garden

I'm not sure as to the species of trees these were, but they had very interesting patterns in their bark. I would have like to spend more time studying and photographing them. In addition to the trees there were some very ornate and beautiful buildings and statues that looked interesting, but we had no time to do anything other than snap a quick picture.

Heavily gnarled trunk

Jagged rock formation

Anne taking videos while my
sister, Carol, watches

Elephant statue

Flowers blooming

Our allotted few minutes in the Imperial Garden was not nearly enough for us to enjoy its spendors. We were very dissappointed that we had to leave, but that's the price you pay for joining a tour. John and I vowed to return, but there just wasn't enough free time for us to do so.

Continue to the next page and see one of China's most beautiful royal residences ... the Summer Palace.

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Welcome to our China 2001 Photo Album
Planning and Getting there: Grand Circle Tours and Northwest Airlines
Beijing : Arriving in Beijing | Tiananmen Square | The Imperial (Forbidden) Palace (1) | The Imperial Palace (2) | The Nine Sons of the Dragon
The Imperial Palace Garden | The Summer Palace | Summer Palace (2) | Summer Palace (3) | Summer Palace (4) | Local Beijing Market
Local Beijing Market (2) | Hutong | Bell Tower | Hutong Family, Dinner and the Opera | Cloisonné Factory | Ming Tombs | Ming Tombs (2)
Great Wall of China at Ba Da Ling | Temple of Heaven
Shanghai : Arriving Shanghai | Yuyuan Garden | Yuyuan Garden (2) | The Temple of the Jade Buddha | The Bund | Day Excursion to Suzhou
Silk Process | The Administrator's Garden of Suzhou | Shanghai Museum of Art
Cruising the Yangtze River : Yangtze Cruise, Day 1 | Yangtze Cruise, Day 2 | The Xiling and Wu Gorge | The Lesser Three Gorges
The Lesser Three Gorges (2) | The Qutang Gorge | Wanxian | The Last Day of Cruising | Regal China Cruise Lines
Chongqing : Chongqing
Xi'an : Xi'an and Emperor Qin's Terracotta Warriors | Emperor's Qin's Terracotta Warriors (2) | Great Wild Goose Pagoda and Xi'an City Wall
Quilin : The Limestone Peaks of the Li River | The Limestone Peaks of the Li River (2) | Guilin and the Childrens Park | Children's Park (2) and Reed Flute Cave
The Hotels: Hotels, rail and air travel in China
Hong Kong : Victoria Peak, Repulse Bay and Aberdeen Fishing Village | Hong Kong at Sunset | Hong Kong Bird & Flower Market
| New Territories Fishing Village | Hong Kong Farewell Dinner
Bangkok : Jim Thompson House and Golden Buddha | The Flower Market | The Food Vendors | Grand Palace | Mystical Figures | Brightly Painted Masks on Mystical Figures
Golden Mystical Figures | Buildings of the Grand Palace | Lunching at the Shangri La Hotel | Loy Nava Rice Barge Cruise | Ayutthaya, Ancient Capital of Siam
Wat Yai Chai Mongkol and the Reclining Buddha | Bang Pa In, The Summer Palace |

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E-mail questions to : ChinaQuestions@Anniebees.com