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Beijing: Filling out the days

Beijing Travel Blog

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Temple of Heaven

5 days in Beijing just doesn't seem like enough. There is so much to do and see. We kicked off our first day at Tian'amen Square, which is really just a big, concrete block….square. It has a giant, statue thing at one end with a giant….mausoleum/museum thing right behind it. It really wasn't all that interesting to look at. In front of that is the Forbidden City.
Summer Palace
We made it through the first two gates but not through the third because it was closed. We decided to try it on another day..

It was New Year's Eve Day so later that night Ashley and I ran around the streets chasing the fireworks displays until 11, when we conceded to our exhaustion and headed to bed. That was short-lived as we were promptly awakened at 12 with a tremendous fireworks display on the street right outside of our 2nd story window. Fun stuff.

On Thursday, we slept in a bit as were a little done in from the not sleeping for the 30 hours previous due to packing/traveling, etc. After a late breakfast, we headed out to the Temple of Heaven. This is probably the most beautiful temple I've ever seen. It's a monstrous blue, cone/circular structure situated atop three giant white stone slabs in a bleached white square.
Summer Palace
It looks amazing. The color contrasts are profound and the size is impressive. After admiring the temple, we talked down a bit and were lucky enough to catch a traditional Chinese parade celebrating the New Year's Day. There were hundreds of men marching with flags while wearing traditional clothes. The colors just leapt out at everyone and the picturesque clear, blue sky really accentuated the billowing yellows and reds and blues of the flags. Really beautiful.

Later that day we caught a Chinese acrobatic show that was just as neat and entertaining as I always thought one would be. This show was complete with the poles and ropes that the performers use to jump from and do their acts from, as well as the hoop jumping and power moves acts (doing one-handed handstands on another guy's shoulders).
At the Temple of Heaven
After that, we headed out for our own taste of Peking duck. We ordered a complete duck and they brought it out and cut it up for us. The first few bites were tremendous. It is without doubt the most flavorful meat I've ever tasted. The ducks/geese are cooked and roasted and then you're basically served the skin with a little meat on each piece. The skin is what has all the flavor in it and each bite just pours out the juices. We wrapped each piece in little rice pancakes with some sauce and onions. By the end of the meal, the flavor was almost too much and I retreated stuffed and fully satisfied with the experience.

On Friday, we had our Great Wall excursion; check out the other write up for details.

Saturday was our last full day so we headed 12ks (8 miles) out of the city to the Summer Palace.
Deep inside the Forbidden City
This is a giant area of land with numerous palatial buildings situated on a picturesque lake in the middle of low-lying mountains. When we arrived, the lake was frozen so we followed all the Chinese people's lead and hopped on out there for our own little ice-skating act. I took to running and sliding on my butt and stomach and tried to get some nice little videos of it; but I'm not too sure how that all came out.  We spent about 4 hours climbing up and around all the beautiful buildings and looking out over the lake at all the sights.

After the Summer Palace, Ashley and I wanted to go souvenir shopping. We were fortunate to run into our friends Jeremy and Christine, who pointed out the prime souvenir buying spot that was located down a small alley situated in between stalls of people selling fried scorpions and silk worms.
Summer Palace
Yum. I had a bit of a steep learning curve with the haggling but Ashley turned into a pro from the get-go, bartering her way down to reasonable prices for all of her items. I had to watch her a bit to see how it was done and was happy when it seemed to work. We left with some nice souvenirs and a bit of pride about being able to get what we felt were fair prices for what we wanted. (The next day, however, I found some of the same items in souvenir shops and found that I had paid 3x as much for some of the items. Woops. Haha. )

Our flight was heading out at 6:30 pm on Sunday so we had the morning to try and make it back through the Forbidden City, which Ashley and I did. We pretty much walked straight through in about 30 minutes. There were about 800 buildings (literally, there are 800 buildings and 9000 rooms in this complex) and we just kind of strolled through, taking a pic here and there.
Beijing
After seeing some of the other temples, none of the ones in here really stood out much so after about an hour we headed out to try our hand at some more haggling before heading to the airport.

So, all in all, it was mission accomplished on all counts. I saw everything I wanted to see and had such a fantastic time doing it. I left Beijing so completely satisfied with everything that I was a bit sad to have to return to Korea so soon. It's got me looking forward to Japan in July, though! Until next time…
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Temple of Heaven
Temple of Heaven
Summer Palace
Summer Palace
Summer Palace
Summer Palace
At the Temple of Heaven
At the Temple of Heaven
Deep inside the Forbidden City
Deep inside the Forbidden City
Summer Palace
Summer Palace
Beijing
Beijing
At the Temple of Heaven
At the Temple of Heaven
At the Temple of Heaven
At the Temple of Heaven
This looks awkward...
This looks awkward...
Forbidden City
Forbidden City
Summer Palace
Summer Palace
Beijing
photo by: Deats