Exploring Beijing

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South Gate Tian'anmen Square

We had a free breakfast at the hotel; a somewhat Spartan selection of rice, noodles, soups, steamed bread rolls……etc. We were pleased. We took a taxi to Tiananmen Square. The subway would have been safer-if we had known how to get aboard. The square was about half full of tourist organized into groups of 20 color coded Chinese tourists in single file lines behind the numerous  flag wielding guides. The tourists themselves seemed more interesting to us than did Mao’s remains, or the buildings and monuments themselves. That said, it is an impressively large square. From there we walked north into the Forbidden City, while fending off English speaking touts pretending to be art teachers. We worked our way through the maze of buildings, trying to stay off the main tourist route as much as possible.

Preperations fopr Golden Week Tian'anmen Square
We did venture once into the fray to get a glimpse at the contents of one of the buildings. We were steered, pushed, and jostled with the ebb and tide of the flow of people along the side of the building.  At this point Wilson was reminded by the onset of a headache that he didn’t have any coffee for breakfast.  Luckily, there is a Starbucks in the Forbidden City. We hunted it out, it was hidden in the gift shop. After a cup of Joe we were ready to see more. We continued deeper into the City, settling down again in the inner garden, a nice place to sit and enjoy the scenery.  We exited the City through the North Gate and walked across the street into Jinghsan Park, where we climbed up to the top of the hill and got a birds eye view of what we had just walked through, as well as of the surrounding downtown area.
Chinese Tourists preparing to charge!

From the park, we walked west to a lake where we turned north. We found ourselves walking through the alleys or ‘Hutongs’. It was not necessarily our intent, but more one of those things that we fell into that turned out to be quite interesting. We got a lot of weird looks from the locals as we walked past the gates to their homes, and we got a bit nervous, entertaining thoughts of backtracking to a principle street.  Possibly foolishly, we decided to carry on, trying to maintain a northerly course through the tangle of alleys. Eventually we popped out on a main road, and spotted a national tourist office across the street. We went in, filled out the guest book, picked up some maps and chose a destination -   Prince’ Gongs Palace.

Forbidden City view from Jinghsan Park Hill
On the way to the palace, we walked around a lake and passed numerous pub’s and small café’s servicing the western tourist crowd that come out to  enjoy the peaceful views along the willow lined shore. We were quite amazed to see men swimming in the middle of the lake amongst the paddle boats.  We eventually made it to Gong’s Palace, and the millipedes of tourists were not far behind us. Had we understood the lady at the ticket window, we might have gotten tickets to see a Chinese Opera that was being performed later, but as it was we were happy just to walk around the gardens enjoying the ponds, rocks, plants and buildings. That Prince sure new how to live.

After having our fill of the palace we continued to walk along the lake until sun set. We tried to get a taxi driver to take us to the Peking Duck Restaurant, but it wasn’t happening, so we showed him the card for the hotel , deciding to have  our dinner at the same restaurant as yesterday. We enjoy celebrating our anniversary eating Peking Duck and all the compliments. The waitress showed us just how to use the plumb paste, bamboo, and crepes. We ate the whole duck and drank a few more Tsingtao’s (500ml each!).

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South Gate Tiananmen Square
South Gate Tian'anmen Square
Preperations fopr Golden Week Tian…
Preperations fopr Golden Week Tia…
Chinese Tourists preparing to char…
Chinese Tourists preparing to cha…
Forbidden City view from Jinghsan …
Forbidden City view from Jinghsan…
photo by: Deats