Beijing Travel Blog› entry 16 of 42 › view all entries
So we arrived back into Beijing on a bit of a high, just in time for the Olympic opening ceremony!
Before we left for the wall we had bargained for a room in a hostel very near Tiannenmen Square. We managed to get a room for half the advertised price, although it probably has more to do with the reduced number of tourists than our superior bargaining skills! Either way it was still horrendously overpriced.
We ate some dinner and wandered down to Tiannenmen Square to see what festivities were going on. Or rather we TRIED to do that. The crowds of people were insane, a surging mass of sweat and arms, pushing and shoving people off the pavements and into the road. At the junction there was a police blockade stopping any more people through, yet still letting cars and buses away from the square, directly INTO the block of people. We lasted about 10 minutes before deciding that it was a much better idea to go and watch the ceremony from one of the hostels we knew had a big telly.
So we settled down with a drink and watched the ceremony get underway. I was very impressed with it, thought that it was well organised and really entertaining, although we have heard since that the singing girl was miming as the actual singer was not pretty enough to be on television...!?! The lighting of the flame was my favourite bit I think, the roar that went up as the guy was lifted up and then started to 'run' round the stadium was strangely moving. The trillions of countries filing in was slightly tedious, but we were kept amused by the endless enthusiasm of the hostel staff. For all my feelings about the Chinese (and I am developing a love/hate relationship with them), I have never seen such a genuinely proud, happy nation during the run up to the Games.
As the ceremony drew to a close we saw the fireworks on the screen and realised some were coming from Tiannenmen Square, so rushed down to the end of the road to see for ourselves, as did every other person on the street! It was really fantastic. So on the 8th day of the 8th month 2008, we hiked along the Great Wall of China, then watched the opening ceremony of the Olympics in the host city, and mingled with the Chinese watching the fireworks live in Tiannenmen Square.
We had to go to Nanning in South China to get a visa for Vietnam, but unfortunatly every train for the next couple of days was full. Not knowing what to do, we booked a train to Shanghai instead and hoped that we could get a connection from there the next day. The train wasn't until the evening, giving us almost a full day to finish off Beijing. We went first to the Forbidden City, now called the Imperial Palace. We had heard so much about this, and the sight is one of the iconic images of Beijing. It consists of a series of temple like houses and large courtyards which Emperors from the Ming and Qing dynasties lived in, and rarely ventured out of. It was a very very hot day the day we went, which probably contributed to our slight dissapointed.
I couldn't leave Beijing without trying genuine Peking Duck, so we went for an early dinner to one of the better duck restaurants just off the main shopping street. It was a lovely place and we felt quite civilised which is unusual! Unfortunatly there was not much for Lisa to eat, as every dish has some part of duck in it, including neck, feet and internal organs. We went for the traditional duck, plum sauce and pancakes. As the ducks were cooked they were wheeled out on trollies by chefs with white coats and surgical masks on, where they first used a heavy knife to chop off the head, then very carefully sliced the meat and layed it out nicely on a plate. The waitress then came over to demonstrate how to put together the pancake (as if I didn't know!!), expertly folding it with chopsticks!