I knew that my first trip to mainland China would only scratch the most superficial of surfaces. China exists on a scale all of its own. The incredible size of the country along with everything there is to see and do conspire to make it impossible to explore it all on a single trip. No, I imagine a lifetime – or even multiple lifetimes – would be necessary to properly appreciate everything that China has to offer, but I didn’t have multiple lifetimes to devote on my first visit. No, I had a very limited amount of time but I was determined to make the most of it. I spent a lot of time researching and thinking about how best to prioritize my first experience in China and while I know it’s very basic and even elementary, it’s also how I think many first-time visitors experience the country. With all of that in mind, here are just some of my favorite photos from my China experience, photos that I hope share the feeling of excitement I still feel today from this remarkable adventure.