Catch up with the previous post – Beijing – Day 1
Firstly let me apologise for the huge delay between the last post and this one. It’s been a pretty manic since we came back from China. I was adjusting to a slightly different job role and the run up to Christmas. I just didn’t get the time to sit down and finish off the posts. But, here we go for Beijing day 2!
I will start by saying this is an epic day with a lot of walking and sights!
After a good breakfast at the Park Plaza we met out guide Skye and headed for the tube. Beijing has a comprehensive underground system which does go most places and is expanding rapidly so I suspect you will be able to get anywhere in Beijing very soon. The one thing I would mention though is that Beijing is huge and even with a underground system it can still take hours to get places on the outskirts (e.g. the Summer Place.)
Anyway, our trip was short and after only a few stops down the line we got off and were at the Temple of Heaven. I came here when I visited Beijing previously but it was covered in snow so I was excited to see it minus the snow.
There is a large park mainly used by the elderly for games and exercises. Skye informed us the OAPs get free access into the park. We watched some people playing “Chinese Yoyo” or Diablo as we know it here, some people dancing and practicing Tai Chi. The pictures do it more justice!
We also stumbled across and large gym-style exercise area with outdoor equipment similar to that in a regular gym. We did have a go on a few bits and bobs and marvelled at the elderly people who all looked much fitter than most people in the UK.
Not only were they using the equipment but fences and benches also became exercise bars. It was a fantastic site and a wonderful atmosphere – they should definitely introduce this type of community exercise in the UK.
There was also a large area along a corridor where there were lots of people playing games and playing instruments, it was fun to see an insight into Chinese culture.
When we had finished oggling at the people we wandered round the temples, sacrificial sites and echoing wall. It was very much how I remembered it and just as beautiful. The temple was a place where the emperors went to pray for good harvest.
We saw some men doing water calligraphy outside the complex which was really cool to see.
A quick hop on a bus, munch on some caramelised crab apples and we entered Tiananmen Square. I remember from my previous trip how big this square is but it still takes your breath away!
We made a pit stop into Chairman Mao’s Mausoleum – luckily there was no queue as it was very close to closing but we whizzed through. Mao looked much the same as last time, not that you can linger to look very hard as you are pushed through by the guards. Our guide Skye mentioned that not many foreign tourists she guides actually go inside! I’ve seen him twice now!!
We wandered around the square trying to spot undercover police (Stuart did spot someone being arrested by an un-uniformed officer.) It was pretty busy and we did get stopped to be in a couple of pictures but nothing like we did in Uzbekistan.
There are subways in and out of Tiananmen Square to allow pedestrians in and out without needing to cross the roads. We followed some soldiers through and over to the Forbidden City.
The Forbidden City was (as the name suggests) forbidden to all people except the Emperor, his family and his staff. It was originally built between 1368-1644 but many sections have been rebuilt. The last Emperor was driven out in 1924 and since then it’s been known as the Palace Museum.
The site is HUGE and full of buildings in different sections – 8700 rooms to be precise. We of course did not go to all of the rooms as it would take years but took the main route through the palace.
When we exited the other side it was time for some lunch! Skye took us to a lovely restaurant where we had some dumplings. I stupidly forgot to take a picture but they were so tasty! Plus it only cost us about £5 for the two of us!
Our last stop of the afternoon was the Beijing Hutongs. Many of the hutongs have been destroyed in the Chinese quest for sky scrappers and redevelopment. This is a complete and utter shame as the hutongs contain so much history.
Nowadays they are an area for poor people in tiny houses which come off narrow roads and alley ways but originally the areas were for wealthy people and were a sought after area to live. We wandered round the roads dodging rickshaws and scooters until we came to one of the lakes. It was a beautiful area and I could have spent many an hour watching people pass by.
We were pretty exhausted by this point so headed back to the hotel for a rest before we went out to dinner with a friend and headed to the night market, but I will save that for another post.