the Tiananmen gate
This past weekend, everyone in the group decided take a rest from weekend travel and spend some more time discovering Beijing
. A lot of people went on Friday, but since I wanted to sleep in that day, I decided to lead some others there the next day. It ended up just being me, Avadhi, and Shareefa who made the trip to the middle of the city on Saturday. I was glad to spend some more time getting to know the two Indian girls on the trip, as I usually don't get to hang out with them.
After taking a taxi to Wudaokou, the nearby subway station, and riding a couple of subway lines to the middle of the city, the three of us arrived at Tiananmen Square. What a beautiful day it was! The bluest sky I have seen in Beijing yet was above us, free of clouds and sun blazing.
chillin' with Mao
It was hot, but I was definitely glad to finally see the sun! Perhaps the funniest part of the whole trip was walking around and having people sneaking glances at me, some finally gathering up the courage to ask me to take a picture with them. I felt kind of like a celebrity...there are few places in the world where being white is a commodity. I guess many of these people from inland China have never seen a white person before, and they are always anxious to snap pictures! This happened on multiple occasions throughout the day, and I was happy to oblige. After snapping some pictures in front of Mao's picture and the Tiananmen gate, we headed through towards the Forbidden City.
There were many gates and squares to walk though, but we took our time and made sure to buy refreshments.
another closed off building :(
We bought some tickets at a ticket stand and then headed onward toward the Meridian Gate, entrance to the Forbidden City. We also decided to pay a little extra and buy the audio guides (the English ones) with the cool little earpiece, so that we would at least know what was going on as we walked around. But was we got up to the gate to turn in our tickets, we realized a grave error...we had bought tickets to the wrong attraction! As I said , the area was huge, and we (not knowing any Chinese) had bought tickets to see the Tiananmen gate itself. Luckily it was cheap, so we decided to walk all the way back and check out what we had paid for. The view from the top of the gate was pretty cool, but the museum inside was ll in Chinese and we couldn't reaad any of it. But it was pretty cool anyway.
me & Avadhi
Now, on the the Forbidden City!
We finally got back to the Meridian Gate and (after buying the correct tickets...with a student discount from the ticket girl obviously impressed that we were from Tsinghua) and entered the forbidden city. The place is huge! I'll let the pictures tell most of the story, but many of the buildings (although they all start to look the same after a while) are very impressive. I only have two complaints...many of the buildings were closed off due to rennovations for the Olympics, so we had to go around. Also, there is a large lack of trees and other vegetation among the grounds. Other than the gardens, all walkways are totally covered in gray brick, and the whole place seems kind of dead. Once is swarmed in gray, red and yellow. But everything still looks pretty cool. Overall, it was a good trip and I'm glad I got to see where the old emperors used to call home. Check out the pictures!