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Jam packed day

Beijing Travel Blog

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Entrance to the Forbidden City
We had an early start today, as we had a lot to see in one day. We were going to hit the ground running and make our way to Tiananmen Square early to avoid the crowds. Since our hotel was just south of the square, we caught what was a 5-10min bus ride there with the assistance of our guide Jimmy. It's nice to have a guide who is with us (rather than against us) once more.

First thing we do once we get to Tiananmen Square beside taking the obligatory happy snaps was line up to see Chairman Mao's mausoleum. You'd be surprised  at the line to get into the mausoleum. It's huge. No wonder we had to get there early. We were going to do the double. Lenin and Chairman Mao on the same trip. How could you turn down looking at 2 dead guys :) I still haven't got over how freaky it is looking at preserved dead historical figures.
Building in the Forbidden City
I'm not sure how they would feel being a tourist attraction in a post communist era. Maybe they are keeping the bodies so they can clone them. Are there any other dead historical figures around the world which have been preserved? Or is it just Lenin and Chairman Mao?

With the excitement of the mausoleum out of the way we headed across the square to the Forbidden City (FC). I was pretty eager to get the audio tour of the FC, as my guide book told me that it was Roger Moore who does it. What better way to be led around the FC than by 007 himself. Didn't end up getting it though, as our guide wanted to show us around. We ended up walking for hours within the grounds of the FC without even seeing it all. Its huge, and would have taken a day to see it all I think.
The bridges in the Forbidden City. There was a story behind the significance of these bridges but I forgot it.
By the end of it I'm pretty bushed and hungry, so we head for this awesome noodle place. I think we paid 20RMB or thereabouts for huge bowls of noodles. It was one of these places you couldn't have found without any local knowledge, and I'm glad our guide showed it to us.

Post lunch we walk around the Hutong area briefly and go to the bell tower on the northern axis of the strip.  To climb the bell tower took a lot of endurance. As it was a pretty old building and maybe they didn't want a lot of people going up there. The stairs were kind of worn and very very steep. I've climbed a few towers in my day, but this one tower's steps were far steeper than anything I've encountered before. In sections you have to use the handrail or you would fall.
The view from the top is amazing though. You can see the FC in the distance as well as the Hutong districts.

Once we decended from the Bell Tower we caught a taxi to the Lama Temple. I'm so glad I went here. Honestly, it's like no other temple I've been to. The sheer size and grandeur of it. Whilst not the same size as the FC, it was definitely more than 6 football fields big. Or at least it felt that way. In one of the temples there was a huge buddah which was at least 4 stories tall. Apparently it was carved from one huge piece of log and was carried all the way here to its present location from a very far place. Sort of like the stones from Stonehenge. Anyway it left me speechless.

Since we we on our feet all day we headed back to the hotel afterwards for some R&R.
Some roof
For dinner we planned to go to the Night Markets and dine on all the oddities on offer. China is synonymous with bizzare food. The night markets were where you could experience that along with some relatively normal food. Before today, I wouldn't have pictured myself eating grasshoppers and snakes and other bits and bobs which aren't meant to be eaten. But since I was on holidays and probably won't ever have the opportunity or inclination again I went all out. When in Rome. If you don't think about it and just chew its not that bad. Although most of it we didn't finish. We took bites here and there and ended up binning it.

Later on we headed to the bar streets (Hua Hai & Salitur Rd) where we drank ourselves silly. It was realtively easy when one place we went into had half price cocktails all night because it was winter and there were no tourists around. There would be the usual touts lining the streets trying to lure you in with special deals and cheap drink tickets. Lets just say we took them up on some of their offers.


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Entrance to the Forbidden City
Entrance to the Forbidden City
Building in the Forbidden City
Building in the Forbidden City
The bridges in the Forbidden City.…
The bridges in the Forbidden City…
Some roof
Some roof
The now non-existant Starbucks ins…
The now non-existant Starbucks in…
Another roof
Another roof
Statue outside Chairman Maos maus…
Statue outside Chairman Mao's mau…
FC entrance
FC entrance
Beijing
photo by: Deats