Around Beijing

Beijing Travel Blog

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Beijing is an amazing city - the people, the sites, the FOOD!!

My hotel is in a great location so I am able to walk to almost everything. Most of the attractions are in the inner city and close to one another. The Forbidden City seems like it will go on forever. I spent most of my five days here exploring the sites, walking through the hutongs, meeting other travelers and sampling the amazing variety of food from street vendor and restaurants....sleeping is for train rides.

I got an early start to beat the crowds at the Forbidden City and it was well worth it. The place is massive. I walked around in awe of the architecture; the engineering that it took to build such eloborate structures, the scale on which they were built & the attention to detail that makes them so beautiful.

Another morning (after a long night at Beihai Park Bar street with some crazy europeans), I walked to the Temple of Heaven at daybreak to visit it's Round Alter before it was overrun with tour groups. It was a success as I was the first one in the gate and was able to snap a picture standing on the large marble stone from which the Emporer used to address the masses. The Alter rises amongst temples from the center of a huge park (Piedmont x2) where thousands of Chinese gather every morning to practice Tai chi - an ancient form of exercise - usually in groups ranging from 5 to 50 with one person acting as the leader (picture an arobics class in super slow motion). I joined some old men playing a game where they stand 20 yards apart and toss soft rings to each other trying to catch them around their necks.

I was the only westerner in sight and while some chinese still oogle at the site of westerners walking among them, most are very friendly and those who speak english are anxious to practice.

At night I've been meeting up with some friends I've met at the hotel and trying different restaurants and street food. My favorite has been a small storefront among the hutongs where tables spill off the sidewalk and onto the street as it gets more and more crowded. They served what we called "hot pots" - like mini woks brought to your table and placed on sterno to keep warm. The food is fresh and amazing. Another night, after returning from our hike of the Great Wall we celebrated with a 5 course meal of Peking (Beijing) Duck - an experience I will never forget.

For breakfast and lunch I usually just grab something from one of the several street vendors along the narrow market streets of the hutong. Favorites are satay, pork dumplings, fried dough and some kind of meat and vegatable filled pastry (mine was pork with scallions). Each costs less than a USD and tastes amazing!!

Next, I am off to Xi'an. Home of the Terracotta Army. The train ride is twelve hours overnight...wish me luck!


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photo by: Deats