Dispatch from China: Arriving in Beijing


Travel Agent has just returned from a 12-day journey through Hidden China and Inner Mongolia. Check out our video from Day 1 on the scene!

great wall of china
All photos by Meagan Drillinger

Does anyone know who first said, “It’s not about the destination; it’s about the journey”? Could I get his Twitter handle? I have a few tweets to send. 

First of all, right on. En route from my apartment in Queens to the hotel in Beijing, China, I was met with the following obstacles: delayed flight out of JFK to Washington Dulles causing me to miss my connection to Beijing. Though I was assured there was a 5 pm United flight to Beijing that I would be automatically put on, there was no such flight…it was Air China and it was quite a kerfuffle to get me on it. Blueberry pie and a glass of wine to the rescue at the airport bar.

Cut to 14 hours later I land in Beijing and look for my transfer to the hotel. Nowhere to be found. Apparently the message was never sent that I was put on a new flight. But that’s okay, I thought. I can navigate the Beijing metro. I’m a New Yorker after all. Garbled subway announcements might as well be in Mandarin, and subway reroute signs are about as coherent as scribbled Chinese characters. 

Talk about the journey, indeed. But truth be told, as inconveniencing as it was, it was pretty manageable in the moment. Leave it to travel to teach you a little bit about yourself and what you’re capable of. And then, when it’s over, you’ve arrived.

great wall of china

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First timer in Beijing right here. Proud to admit it. China has never really been on my bucket list. I’ve always been drawn to the Thailands, the Balis, the New Zealands. China, for some reason, never seemed THAT exotic to me. But all that changes the minute you step foot on the Great Wall. You never truly realize how badly you want to see the Great Wall until you are actually on it, surrounded by misty mountains and silence. It is captivating, and nothing like you expect it’s going to be.

I know a lot of you out there are probably not newbies to China. It’s the next “must see” destination after Europe and has become “been there, done that.” So this may be old hat to you. But let me just say…wow. It really is that breathtaking. It’s unbelievable to stand on a structure that has stood for more than two thousand years and holds so much significance throughout a blood-soaked history. Once you walk (or rather, hike) the Great Wall, you are aware of the labor and toil that took place to put it together. Yes, you can see it from space, but have you? Probably not. Putting one foot in front of the other, stone over stone, step after step, you feel the weight of its importance…all down your legs. It’s exhausting, but so wonderful. 

Travel Agent is on location with G Adventures, on a 12-day journey throughout Northern China and Inner Mongolia. The tour will take us from Beijing, into Inner Mongolia via overnight train, and then down through several cities on our way to Xi’an. It’s a first timer’s (and adventurer’s) dream into China, filled with experiences with locals, culture, food and history. It is shaping up to be quite an adventure, and I have a feeling that yes, while the cities themselves will be incredible, its the stories in between that will really live up to travel legend. 

Stay tuned to www.travelagentcentral.com for more updates.

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