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Saturday, March 05, 2011

Beijing, March 2011

I'm sure you can't do Beijing in a day, but how I tried!

After arriving in Beijing on the overnight train from Shanghai, we had a tough time actually trying to find how to get out of the train station to the cab line. We finally did, and waited in a long long cab line. Of course, after getting in the cab, the driver didn't understand where we wanted to go. I tried to google it, and finally he understood the neighborhood that we were trying to get to.  We stayed at a Japanese hotel, the New Otani Chang Fu Gong. It was a five star hotel, and was fairly nice.

After we refreshed and had lunch, we hired a driver who would take us around for the day. First, we went to The Forbidden City, the ancient home of the Chinese Emperors, where no men other than the Royal Family were allowed unless they were eunuchs. We learned from our tour guide Thomas that the Emporer had two official wives and lots of concubines.

Inside the Forbidden City

The Last Emperor, Puyi, born in 1906, ruled until 1912 . (He ruled again for 12 days in 1917.) He died in 1967, but we met his nephew, who is a master calligrapher.

After leaving the Forbidden City, we drove an hour and a half to Badaling to see the great wall. As we were almost there, I saw the hills in the distance with the Great Wall snaking its way across. It was amazing to see my first glimpse.

First glimpse of the Wall from the taxi

When we arrived in Badaling, we took a gondola up the hill to the wall. It was breathtaking!

More shots of the Great Wall:

On the way back home, I wanted to go to Tiananmen Square. We had been right at it when we were at Forbidden City, but didn't really have the time to go. But I couldn't leave Beijing without seeing it. Our driver took us there, and then let me out rather reluctantly, telling me not to take pictures. Scarlet and I got out and walked to the square from a side street near the Great Hall of the People (parliamentary building pictured below). I took pictures (with cameras on every pole pointing in every direction.) Suddenly, throngs of people were walking toward us, and soldiers and police would not allow us to go back in the direction we came from. We did not know what was going on at the time, but figured later that they were just closing the square and wanting everyone to leave. It was probably almost an hour before we were able to wind our way back to our driver because we had to walk around Tiananmen Square the in almost a complete circle from where we started, crossing the streets underground at each corner in the vast crowd of people leaving the square as it closed for the evening.

Frank standing in Tiananmen Square

人民大會堂 - Great Hall of the People, Western Edge of Tiananmen Square
After we finally got back to our hotel, we had a nice dinner, and went to sleep before our early flight back to the U.S. the next day.


Susan Chana Elliott said...

Sounds like a great trip! How was the train ride?

Frank said...

Hysterical! I wrote about that in the Shanghai post.

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