Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City
Beijing Travel Blog› entry 11 of 12 › view all entries
So on day 2, my first full day in Beijing, I decided to go to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. I started the day with a "Full English Breakfast" from the restaurant at the hostel. This was my first breakfast in two weeks that wasn't toast with tea. And, of course, I had coffee. As I ate I mapped out my route for the day. Thanks to my bus mishap the night before, I knew which bus to take and where to get off. T Square is directly south of the Forbidden City. According to may map (and several other maps I later checked), there is a large gate that separates the two, so they are very easy to do in a single day.
I had read in my guidebook and online about "English students" who would try to befriend tourists, then take them to art shops where they were pressured into buying really expensive stuff, or to tea ceremonies for which they are charged several hundred yuan.
I arrived at T Square around 10:00 in the morning. The place is massive, though there are buildings that seem to interrupt the open space idea. It was, of course, full of people. This was a Sunday, and my book said that the weekends are always bad. I had a difficult time getting my bearing on the map, and so I pretty much wandered aimlessly. There were a lot of people hanging out along a railing, just talking with one another and passing the time. As I tried to walk past, a man who was obviously one of the plain-clothed policemen grabbed by shoulder and said "No bags". (I was wearing a backpack.) It was at that moment that I realized I had been about to cut into the line of people waiting to see the body of Chairman Mao.
Well, I had no interest in seeing the dead body of Mao, so I left and wandered around some more. I did take several pictures of the square and the lines of people. But even on film it is hard to recognize that the people are queuing up. I headed in a direction that I thought was north, and looked for that big gate that would lead to the Forbidden City. I wandered, and wandered some more, and soon I started seeing houses and government buildings, and very few people. But I really thought I was heading the right direction, so I figured the gate must not be as grand as I had imagined.
Needless to say, I was not going in the right direction, and ended up walking several miles out of the way. I finally ended up stopping at a big library that had the standard green-clad army guards standing outside. I had a pathetically simple conversation with one of the guards, while the other one laughed. My contribution to the conversation was Forbidden City-Where is it? HereWhere is it? (on the map I was holding) Its there?. I have no idea what he said in response, but I understood that it was a few blocks down the street. So on I went.
I honestly dont have much to say about the Forbidden City. It was hot and it was crowded, and my audio guide that cost me 40 yuan stopped working half way through. It was so full of people that I didnt even try to get inside the buildings with the exhibits.
At this point I had had enough sightseeing for the day. I walked back through T Square and caught the return bus. When I got back to the hostel I took a nice nap, and then spent the evening hours wandering around the hutongs some more. Oh, and I enjoyed one of the huge 3 yuan beers that were sold at the hostel. Thats about 40 cents. I really loved that place. That night when I got back, I took my guidebook and maps out to the common room to plan out my next and last day in Beijing. I had just one goal for that day, and it was to see the Great Wall. Ill write about that next time.