Part of the reason Miriam and I didn’t go to Asia any earlier in the year, (when it would have been a bit cooler) was because we waited for Don and Chris to be out of school for the summer. That way, all four of us could take the tour to China together.

So we arrived in Beijing on Monday, June 15, with projected temperatures being 90 plus all week. Fortunately, it didn’t turn out nearly as hot as expected, with mid-80s and a light breeze being the norm.

Our guide told us that 40 MILLION people reside in, and in close proximity, to this one gigantic city. The 2012 census “only” lists 17 million, but apparently that only takes into account the inner metro area. Nevertheless, to put it into perspective, the combined population of Washington and Oregon comes in at 11 million, so yep, there’s a lot of smog constantly hovering over the Beijing!

Because of the near-constant high smog index, we’d been told not to expect to see “blue sky” in Beijing, but our entire trip was blessed by fabulous weather and truly awesome daily appearances of gorgeous blue skies.

Upon arrival, our biggest surprise was the number of bicyclists and other “alternative transportation vehicles” commuting along the inner city roadways. An entire lane on each side of streets surrounding our hotel was dedicated to odd and amazing ways to get from place to place. As it saves on the smog, (not to mention the traffic!) the government has even set up “rental bikes” in numerous locations.

The first night, we just walked around a little, had dinner, and got our bearings before turning in. We knew we needed to rest up. The next day’s itinerary included a visit to Tiananmen Square, The Forbidden City, a Silk Factory, a Beijing Duck Dinner, the Temple of Heaven, and a surprise addition when we spontaneously decided to attend an Acrobat Show!