I am in China this week for work. I got in a week ago Saturday so I would have Sunday to sightsee. I hadn’t been to Beijing since 2005, before the Olympics. So I was excited to be back.
I started my day at the Temple of Heaven.
The eyewitness travel guide says it is “one of the largest Temple complexes in China…the Emperor would make sacrifices and pray to heaven and his ancestors at the winter solstice”. It is situated in a beautiful park and as I was there early on a Sunday morning, I got to see a lot of the local activity. Elders playing cards, Tai Chi, couples dancing, groups playing music, groups singing… definitely local culture. And not too crowded ! there was so much going on IN the park itself that I spent lots of time just soaking everything in. Here, a group of women were dancing with fans :
I then walked towards Tian’an Men square and stopped at the Beijing Urban Planning museum. I love histories of cities. A lot of it was NOT in English, but there were miniatures of the city that were amazing, as well as information on the Olympics (the choice of the buildings, ground breaking days, etc.). A very large scale miniature lays out the city. Here you can see the Bird’s Nest and other Olympic buildings :
I then walked BY Tian amen Square towards the Forbidden City. Here is where Mao proclaimed the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 (you can see his photo) :
This is one of the places in the city where it is forbidden to park and taxis can not stop or pick up passengers.
I went towards the Forbidden city, but did not go in. Too many people. The eyewitness travel says : The heart of Beijing is China’s most magnificent architectural complex, completed in 1420. The palace is a compendium of imperial architectures and a lasting monument of dynastic China. The place reminded me of Versailles in France with palaces, appartments, living quarters, and hordes of visitors !
I spent the afternoon in and around Wangfujing Street, the main shopping area that has both high end stores, and a local food market. Here is someone selling scoprpions, star fish and bugs.
An extremely interesting day, and interesting city, here you can find my first impressions.