First stop on my working tour of China was Beijing. Even though I was away to work we had rather a lot of time to explore and I wanted to see of much of China as possible. We were to stay in Beijing for 3 weeks. We stayed in a hostel for those weeks and each had our own rooms. As Beijing is so massive it took rather a long time to get anywhere, we mainly travelled by Metro, but sometimes by taxi or uber. I walked sometimes too – as a hutongs shopping area was about a 45 minute walk away. Near the hutongs was a place called the Houhai lake, and surrounding the lake are many bars and places to eat. And we went there a few times during our stay in Beijing.
Beijing is great for the historical and cultural aspects of the Chinese culture. And I managed to go to quite a lot of amazing places and do quite a lot of things. The places we visited, in order, were The Forbidden City, Jingshan Park, Peking Opera, Tiananmen Square, The Great Wall, Temple of Heaven, The Summer Palace, and a Kung Fu show. We also ate at quite a few different restaurants whilst out and about also. Below I’ll give you more details of the places and experiences I had :
The Forbidden City or The Palace Museum
The Forbidden City is absolutely huge! When we went we mostly walked through the centre, but there are also extra sections on both sides of the main body of the city. The buildings are all of green, red, blue and gold in colour. There are halls and temples, all great architectural structures. I especially like the dragon heads which appear out of the wall on the bottom picture above. I mainly couldn’t get over how big it was!
I loved Jingshan Park, it was beautiful. We walked up to the top where the temple stood. I met a man at the top who was talking to us about the temple and he said that the Emperor used to walk from the Forbidden City to this temple with his concubines to come and pray to the Buddha within the temple. From the temple you can see just how big the Forbidden City actually is. Within the park there are many groups who are stood around singing, and many groups playing different games. It was just a really lovely peaceful place.
Peking Opera was a very unique experience. It sounds nothing like opera as we know it. The female is very high pitched with a unique tone. And it isn’t so much about singing but more about the storytelling and physical aspects of the show, at least that’s how I felt. I cannot say that I necessarily liked Peking Opera, but it was definitely great to experience.
On the day I went to Tiananmen Square I went on a solo adventure. I got off at a Metro stop that it said was nearby on line and got quite lost, but I did eventually make it to Tiananmen Square as you can see by the pictures above. I guess getting lost was all part of the adventure really! When I made it to the square it was a lot bigger than I imagined. I had a great day wondering around looking at the buildings taking photos, and finally going to the Museum. The museum was another task in itself. I got my ticket, queued up, got my ticket punched and walked inside. In China there is rather a lot of security and the museum was no different, I did not realise you were not allowed selfie sticks and they told me I had to take it to the cloakroom. It took me absolutely ages to find. I dropped off my selfie stick and luckily was allowed straight back in as my ticket was hole punched. Once inside my bag had to go through the scanner again. Once that was done there is then a full body check, once that is done you can then enjoy the museum til your hearts content. And I did have a great time once I’d got through the security.
The Great Wall
The Great Wall was amazing!! I loved it. The wall was not as high as I expected, as it is built on top of mountains, I guess I had this picture in my head, and I didn’t get it quite right, but I loved it all the same. The wall is very steep in some parts and a lot of the steps are not the same height or depth. It definitely was a task to climb, my legs ached so much, and it proved I was pretty unfit. We walked 7 towers along and back again, on the way I almost stopped at the 6th as I was shattered but I am glad to say I carried on til the 7th. It was a wonderful experience and the views were just beautiful.
Temple of Heaven
I visited the Temple of Heaven on a particularly sunny day! The temple was just stunning. It is circular in structure and very tall. It is just beautiful, especially the way the sunlight was reflecting off the gold of the building, it was stunning. There is a park within the grounds of the temple also, and again there were people playing games, we were invited to join in on one, it was a kicking game, I forget the name. But the item you kick is weighted and has feathers sticking out of it. It’s rather tricky to play so I bought one so I could practice, and I can safely say I think it will take me quite some time to get good. It was such a lovely day.
Another beautiful day in Beijing was when I went to the Summer Palace with a couple of the people I worked with. The Summer Palace was absolutely huge and because we arrived there in the afternoon we didn’t get to explore the whole thing, but a fair bit none the less. We went up to the Buddha temple, where we climbed many stairs to get to the top. Both the Buddha and the view from being up so high were definitely worth it. The sun was setting and it cast some great light over many of the buildings and the lake. This is one of my favourite places to visit in Beijing, and urge anyone travelling there to go.
Kung Fu show
The Kung Fu show was at the Red Theatre. It was a great show to experience. I’m not sure quite what I expected, but the show we saw had a story to it. So the action of the Kung Fu was interlaced with storytelling. I enjoyed the show, and it was great to see Kung Fu first hand.
I loved my time in Beijing very much, I loved it from the moment I arrived, at least I felt at home straight away. I really enjoyed all the places I visited but my favourites have to be Jingshan Park, The Great Wall and The Summer Palace. I can take away great memories from Beijing and I’m sure I’ll remember my time there for many years to come.