Beijing Travel Blog› entry 15 of 33 › view all entries
I arrived in Beijing after taking the overnight train from Shanghai. The first thing that struck me was the scale of the place. It is a very big, modern city and from what I could see, everything within a few miles of the city centre is new - new buildings, new roads, new subways, new train stations etc. Certainly its got its history with Tiananmen Square, The Forbidden City and numerous Palaces dotted around the city. The city also has many markets where any and all items can be found - jewellery, watches, clothes, tools, handbags, shoes, glasses, pottery, fabric.....you name it.
I had arranged to meet a lot of people I knew in Beijing. Chris Kelly a former work colleague was very helpful in showing me around the city and giving me the dos and donts.
The first port of call was the historic Tiananmen Square. Not surprisingly there are no reminders of the 1989 protests. It spans an area of 50 hectares and is the biggest square in the world. The square contains the Chairman Mao Zedong Memorial Hall, where Chairman Mao's embalmed body is displayed to the public periodically through the week. The north of the square is marked by the famous Gate of Heavenly Peace with Chairman Mao's Portrait. Our visit coincided with President Obama's trip to China, so the square had US and Chinese Flags flying in unison while we were there.
One of the highlights of the Beijing area of course is a trip to the Great Wall. While we've all seen the pictures, its not until you walk (climb) it and see it vanish over the horizon in front of you that you appreciate this wonder of the world. One can only imagine the thousands of men and the amount of blood, sweat and tears spent during construction.
Like elsewhere in China, the scale of development in Beijing is ferocious. Shopping malls with 10+ floors are common place. Subway maps are out of date within a few months such is the pace of additional lines being installed. No doubt, effort was made prior to the Olympics to present Beijing in a positive light and this work is still to be seen and will be for years to come.