Mother and son sail the Yangtze and connect with the friendly Chinese people
Each year, Grand Circle Foundation hosts a holiday raffle—the proceeds of which benefit the Boston Family Shelter (BFS), as well as our Up & Out community service program. And this raffle not only supports a wonderful cause, but also gives Grand Circle associates a chance to win prizes including airline and sporting event tickets—and even trips.
This past December, Grand Circle’s Senior Web Content Manager, Declan Buckley, had the surprise of his life when he heard his own name announced: He’d won a trip for two on Grand Circle’s China & the Yangtze River vacation.
Now Declan had an important decision to make: Who would he bring along on the trip? After discussing it with his wife, they decided it was best for her to stay home with their year-and-a-half old daughter. So, Declan—who was born and raised in England—decided to bring someone else near and dear to his heart: his mother.
“My mum has always taken me on wonderful trips and I’ve never had the opportunity to thank her properly,” he says. “My wife attends school and I work full-time, so my mum does a lot to help us look after our little girl. It was so wonderful traveling with her since we have many of the same interests: exploring, children, and enjoying a glass of wine at the bar. She never thought she’d go to China—but I really think she enjoyed herself.”
Here, Declan and his mother, Anna Buckley, a first-time traveler and native of County Cork, Ireland, who now lives in Quincy, Massachusetts, share some of their favorite memories from their trip to China together …
“Visiting the Great Wall of China was truly a highlight—and being able to see it for myself after hearing so much about it made it all the more special.” –Anna
Visiting the Great Wall of China was one of the highlights of Anna’s China trip.
“I love to take photographs, so some of my favorite places to explore were the rural areas of China—far away from the big cities. We visited a market in Fengdu, an ancient city located on the north bank of the Yangtze River, as well as the rural community of Dong Han, near Xian. We also visited busier local markets around Shanghai and Beijing and were able to meet so many of the local people—and they loved having their photos taken. I really enjoyed that we didn’t need to visit the large, crowded cities to get great pictures—we could simply go to a local market and walk around.” –Declan
Visiting rural villages provided some of the best photo opportunities for Declan, like these two young girls playing along the side of the road.
“Going to the school supported by Grand Circle Foundation in Xian was one of my favorite parts of this trip. I sat down with a few of the children and we made drawings and paper cutouts together. The students were so sweet and friendly—and they often reached out to hold my hand. We even played a game of tug-of-war, where Declan served as referee!” –Anna
Anna enjoys spending time with some of the students at a Xian school supported by Grand Circle Foundation.
“I did a lot of exploring on my own—and took the opportunity to sample street food and cuisine I wouldn’t normally eat. I tried stinky tofu, snake wine, and turtle soup—which was incredibly fishy. One day, while walking around Xian, I came across a small restaurant with a few tables outside. I sat down, and since I wasn’t able to tell the chef next to me what I wanted in Chinese, I simply pointed to things that looked good. He was grilling some type of barbequed meat. I think I was eating lamb, but I’m not sure. All I know is, it was delicious.” –Declan
A jug of China’s infamous snake wine.
“During our free time in Guilin, Declan and I decided to visit the Reed Flute Caves with one of our fellow travelers, Michael. A very nice cab driver drove us to the caves and then took us to one of his favorite local restaurants. The food was absolutely fantastic. We ate a variety of delicious fish—and a lot of it!” –Anna
Illuminated rock formations at the Reed Flute Caves in Guilin.
“We had to cut our River Cruise short because of low water, so we finished the final leg of our trip by coach. Although we were initially disappointed by the change in plans, the unexpected turn of events turned out to be awesome. We were able to drive through some beautiful rural villages along the Yangtze—which was such a great surprise. Our Program Director, Diana Zhu Gefen, sang songs and pulled the bus over for some special photo opportunities—which I greatly appreciated.” –Declan
Viewing life along the Yangtze River while traveling by coach.
“There were so many unexpected moments I experienced during the trip: seeing women carrying babies in baskets upon their backs, and the sheer number of bikes, mopeds, and scooters on the road! I was quite intimidated to cross the street for the first time, but I soon learned that the best way to make your way across safely is to find a local who’s about to cross and follow them—and once they realize that you’re trying to reach the other side too, they’ll reach for your hand and help you. Such helpful and friendly people!” –Anna
A young child rests inside a basket placed on its mother’s back.
“I never thought I’d love China as much as I did. And although I saw so much, there is still so much more to see. My trip completely changed my view of the Chinese people—theirs is such a giving and friendly culture.” –Declan
Declan enjoys his time sailing along the Yangtze River.
Encounter the spirited locals and sail the mighty Yangtze River on our China & the Yangtze River vacation.