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Welcome to our blog! We are a husband & wife photography team based in Madison, Wisconsin who document weddings & anniversaries for joyful couples who believe in marriage. This blog is a journal about real love stories, marriage & our own adventures along the way! We are so glad you're here — please stay awhile!




Beijing, China | Highlights & Tips from Our Recent Visit.

May 2, 2017

I’m so excited to be sharing Part I of our recent adventure through China and Thailand on the blog today! I originally planned to do the entire trip in one blog post but quickly realized that would be WAY too much content for one post(!), so I will be doing one post recapping our time in China and one post recapping our time in Thailand : )

In an attempt to try and keep this post as helpful as possible for those who are here for the travel tips — I’m going to get right to it! We traveled for three weeks and all we brought were these two backpacks (one for each of us!) and one daypack (a completely waterproof drybag from Watershed for our camera and electronics when we planned to be kayaking or on the water). We like traveling this way because we don’t have to check any bags which 1. Saves money AND 2. Avoids the chance of losing your luggage!

We can’t recommend these packing cubes enough — they keep everything organized and packed tight when you’re traveling light! Look how many layers of shirts and tanks I was able to fit in that one small bag!

This is literally EVERYTHING we brought for 3 weeks. We packed for one week and did laundry twice. Our packing must-haves (for traveling China and Thailand in April) include:

  • A Visa to get into China
  • Vaccines: Typhoid and Malaria (you also need to be cleared for Hep A) and we each got a flu shot as well
  • Phone, camera, Kindle, iPad/computer, plug converter, portable charger for phone
  • You will need to get a SIM card upon arrival for your phone. This is a MUST as it is SO important to have internet/data (for things like GPS, looking things up online, translation, being able to call your Air B&B or hotel, etc.)
  • Photos of important documents (Passport, ID, credit card, travel insurance, health insurance, itineraries and flight information) ON YOUR PHONE in case you don’t have internet at any point and need to prove who you are or where you are going. This is a must!!!
  • Fanny pack, drybag, quickdry towels, dirty clothes bag
  • Small games/cards
  • Anti-diarrheal medicine, small Kleenex packs (as lots of bathrooms don’t have toilet paper), bug spray, sunscreen (BRING this! It is SO expensive abroad!!), Neosporin and bandaids, toothbrushes and any speciality toiletries you need (otherwise you can buy everything else there!)
  • For makeup I brought mascara, a brown pencil, an eyelash curler and one eye shadow
  • Sunglasses
  • Clothing-wise, we each brought:
    • One pair of Teva sandals and one pair of tennis shoes (I also brought a pair of leather sandals)
    • One pair of jeans
    • A rain jacket
    • Shorts, tanks, t-shirts (it is HOT this time of year, especially in Thailand!) and a swimsuit
    • 7 pairs of socks and 7 pairs of underwear
    • I also brought 2 skirts, 2 dresses, a light cardigan, 4 sports bras and 2 normal bras as well

Here are our tips and recommendations for visiting Beijing:

  1. Stay at an Air B&B hosted by someone who lives locally and who seems willing to help (reviews on Air B&B will tell you this). Our host, Vivi, was INCREDIBLE. Upon arrival, she provided us with a phone that we could call her on any time we had questions, needed translation, were lost, etc. This was absolutely INVALUABLE!! We also loved where Vivi’s house was located — in an older, quieter neighborhood right next to The Forbidden City.
  2. Most people do not know English so do not expect this.
  3. Take the subway to and from the airport — it is actually very easy to navigate (as long as you ask your host which stop you need to get off on for their home!) and it is MUCH cheaper than a taxi ride!
  4. For the Great Wall, we highly recommend visiting at the Mutianyu part : ) It is less touristy and there is a SUPER cool toboggan slide that you can ride on the way down the mountain! We took a personal taxi to the Wall from our Air B&B and we went early in the morning (again, less people!). If you have options for days to go, we would definitely recommend going on a day when the forecast is sunny/clear — that way you can really see and appreciate the vastness and extent of the Wall.
  5. The Forbidden City is definitely worth going to. Give yourself multiple hours!
  6. Jingshan Park is a huge park with lots of walking paths, greenery, flowers, and the highest point in Beijing where you can view the whole city.
  7. Beihai was another park that we really liked — there is a lake in the middle where you can rent boats if you want! We loved playing cards and people watching here : )
  8. Our favorite spot in the city was the Shichahai neighborhood — a kitchy, young neighborhood that surrounds a lake and is filled with cool bars and restaurants (they are a bit more expensive than other areas, though)! It is just just north of Beihai Park.

This park was literally steps away from where we stayed — soooo beautiful! We spent every morning here : )

On our first full day, we went to see the Great Wall. Truly AWESOME and one of our favorite parts of the entire trip!!

This little guy climbed the Wall too and we just had to document it!!!

The toboggan!!

The Forbidden City was another spectacular site — it is MASSIVE and you have to plan at least a half of a day if you want to see it all!

I will never know why, but these women wanted to take a picture with me (thank goodness for hand signals!) and so I went with it!

This is the moat that surrounds the city!

And this is a shot of The Forbidden City from a viewpoint at Jingshan park across the street!

Right outside of The Forbidden City is Tiananmen Square which is right in the heart of the city.

This restaurant is where Caleb had his favorite meal of the entire trip — the famous Peking Roast Duck!

Another day we visited the Summer Palace — while we liked it, this would definitely be something to skip (in our opinion!) if you didn’t have a lot of time in the city.

This is a shot of Beihai Park from across the lake at the Summer Palace!

Everything was in bloom while we were visiting! SO pretty!

And this is the Shichahai neighborhood : )

Stay tuned for Part II of our Asian Adventure (Thailand!) coming to the blog next week!!


  1. Jana Addington

    May 2nd, 2017 at 1:31 pm

    looooooved this!!! can’t wait to see more!! each photo is just STUNNING!

  2. Maison Engel

    May 2nd, 2017 at 3:34 pm

    You are so sweet, girl! THANK YOU 🙂 <3

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