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Beijing

Beijing Travel Blog

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Hutong
The following morning we flew to Beijing , the modern capital and political centre for China . In contrast to the Shanghai and Xian, Beijing is a modern and open city and despite its size of 13.5 million is relatively easy to get around. Our first afternoon was spent exploring one of the old Hutong areas by rickshaw. A Hutong is a series of rooms surrounding a quadrangle. The home was normally occupied by an extended family with common living and cooking facilities and for centuries was the standard mode of living for Chinese people. Today most of the Hutong areas have been demolished for the construction of modern high rise apartments favoured by the modern Beijing resident. The conditions in the Hutongs are basic with bathroom facilities shared communally with the entire street.
Some of the areas are preserved and being modernized.

No visit to China would be complete without a visit to the Great Wall, the only man made structure to be visible from the moon. Several sections are available to the public, and we visited the Mutianyu area, some 73 kilometers northeast of Beijing . Construction of Mutianyu Great Wall was started in the Northern Qi Dynasty (550 - 577) and was restored in the early Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644). A pass was officially set up there in 1404. Carefully repaired in 1569, this section has been extremely well-preserved through the ages. In 1982, a new program began to establish the Mutianyu Great Wall Tourist Area. Finished in 1986, the area now has become an AAAA national tourist attraction, complete with cable car transportation.
Mutianyu is a bit more rugged and slightly less crowded than the more famous Badaling. This area of the wall allows people of all fitness levels to enjoy the experience of standing on one of the seven wonders of the world. We chose to climb to the highest available point to take in the full splendour of the wall as it snaked its way across the ridge tops. The climb is at times steep but well worth the effort. For the less fit a stunning view and experience can be had from the top of the cable car and a short climb onto the wall. The magnitude of the construction is beyond comprehension, just looking at this short 11 kilometre section, let alone its full length of 6100 kilometres.

On our final day in China we took in the another two essential sights, the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square .
The Forbidden City is in the centre of Beijing and occupies a large 720,000 square metres. It contains 800 buildings and 8886 rooms. The forbidden city was the imperial palace from the mid Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty. A good hour and a half is required to explore the Forbidden City and its mazes of buildings and narrow alley ways. The city is also dominated by areas of massive open space.

Outside the city and across the road is Tiananmen Square , the largest square in the world occupying 440,000 square metres. In addition to the sites contained within the square, Tiananmen Tower , Monument to the People's Heroes, Great Hall of the People, and Mao Zedong Memorial Hall, it is a pleasant place to watch the local people relaxing and flying kites in the late afternoon.
The square fills with people on sunset to watch the lowering of the flag ceremony.

With our final walk through the square our brief journey to this fascinating country came to end. China today is a modern industrial country. Development is everywhere with construction of all types of infrastructure in full swing. At the same times elements of its Feudal Past abound and its long history is clearly visible. The tough times and hardship its people endured through the cultural revolution are still visible with bikes and trikes still mixing it with the modern traffic on overcrowded roads. By its nature it is a country that will enhance your appreciation of the world and one you should visit with an open mind and open heart. Its soul is complex and its people warm.
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Hutong
Hutong
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Beijing
photo by: Deats