Apart from the Great Wall, which is just outside Beijing, we’ve been seeing the sights in the city as well. We are staying with my friend Dayo, who has lived in Beijing for a year, speaks Mandarin and has a luxurious apartment. Very handy!
The “boxer shorts” building, near Dayo’s apartment.
The view from Dayo’s apartment.
On our first day, we started with Tian’anmen Square. You can go and see Mao’s body, but that’s really not my idea of a fun holiday excursion, so we just looked round the square. It’s big and concrete and there’s not a lot to it. It’s not a patch on Trafalgar Square!
We then went under the great big portrait of Mao and into the Forbidden City. The complex of buildings is impressive in scale, but the buildings themselves are a bit sameyand the setting is a bit barren, apart from one nice bit of garden towards the north end, which was the best bit.
After that we went to Jingshan Park, which overlooks the Forbidden City and on clear days offers good views across it. But it is pretty smoggy during our first few days so we can just about see the first set of roofs emerging from the haze. The park itself was nice, with a butterfly enclosure and Beijingers chilling out. There’s a popular game here involving keepy-uppy with a shuttlecock thing. It looks fun.
We head over to the drum and bell towers, but we’re too late to go in so we listen to the drumming from a roof-top bar nearby, then explore the hutong alleys around the area.
The Summer Palace is on the edge of town and is where the court decamped to when the Forbidden City got too hot. It’s very similar to the Forbidden City, but is set in much nicer grounds around a lake.
The buildings get a bit samey, the best thing about them is the names. Even the slightly dull boxy buildings are called “The Hall of Illustrious Magnificence” or whatever. We had a stroll around the lake and Mr Beet got pestered for photos by Chinese tourists.
On Saturday we went to the Temple of Heaven Park for me to do my parkrun. There are some nice buildings in the park, but we just liked looking at all the activities going on. This is where the locals meet up at the weekends for choir practice, ballroom dancing, kite flying, flag dancing. With all that going on, bizarrely I was the only runner and I got loads of “hellos” on my way round.
On Saturday night we went to see a Kung Fu show, which was very cheesy but very entertaining. After that, Dayo took us out for some dinner, more roof-top bars and some cheesy tunes. Then on Sunday, one of the famous recovery brunches we’d heard so much about in Shanghai. Ah well, it’ll be no more luxury apartments and decadent brunches from now on.
Beijing has been great, with the Wall being the highlight of our stay in china so far.
All the photos from Beijing are on Mr Beet’s flickr page.