Beijing, China!!!!!!!!! I have been there twice now and my firs time was in 2001, and it had changed a lot since then, almost like two different countries. The thing is that the first time I was there, I was with my class from Otto Treiders Handelsskole (Travel Management class), so we got to see and do absolutely everything you can possibly imagine whiles we were there. Only sad thing is that in 2001 I did not have a digital camera, I had to develop my film to get the pictures. But I did manage to take some pictures of my pictures from then, however, the quality is not the greates, you still see where I am though!
We were in Beijing for one week, and our program started at 6 am every morning and lasted until about 8 or 10 pm. It was very long days but to be able to see everything we really needed all that time. I can not remember the order of all the things we did, what we did the first day end then the second but I will make a list over the this everybody should do if they ever go to Beijing, highly recommendeable. Now another thing that made things a bit easier for us was that we were a group.............. Never in a million years I though I would hera myslef say something like that........ (hate travelling in groups, unless it is a small group of friends or family). We also had a mandarin speaking (the Chinese language they speak there) guide, who followed us all day every day, that was a lot of help. However, now in 2012 a lot more poeple speak English so it is a little bit easier to find our way around the city. It is also a lot more quiet than what is was in 2001. Just look at the pictures I took from our hotel room in 2011, if it was 2001 the street would be full of peple and cars.
Well, anyway, here is my top 10 list of what to do in Beijing!
1. Tiananmen Square, the third larges city square in the world. The Tiananmen Gate to the Forbidden City was built in 1415 during the Ming Dynasti. Today on this square you will find Maos Mausoleum, monument to the People's Heroes (on its southern edge), the Great Hall of the Pepole and the Revolutionary HistoryMuseum (now National Museum of China) on the western and eastern sides of the square and
Tiananmen gate tower to the Forbidden City north of Tiananmen Square.
Picture from http://www.wikipedia.org/
(me outside Maos Mausoleum, I did see him as well..... not alive though but you can still se him)
2. Forbidden City. This breathtaking "construction" is a mixture of halls, temples and housing which make up the former residence of the ancient emperors from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty. It is also known as the Imperial Palace, the complex is said to contain 9,999 rooms in 980 buildings. The complex is divided into a northern and southern part. The southern area is where the emperor would hold ceremonies and entertain guests. The northern half was kept completely private residence accessible only to the select circles of the emperor. Even though this is one of the worlds most popular places to visit, not all of the Forbidden City and its buildings are open to public (might be a good thing otherwise you will never get through it).
(my class from Treider 2001)
The Forbidden City has over the years been the home of 24 emperors, 14 of the Ming Dynasty and 10 of the Qing Dynasty. In 1912 it became the political centre of China after the abdication of Puyi, the last Emperor of China. The Forbidden City is surrounded by a 7.9 metres (26 ft) high city wall and a 6 metres (20 ft) deep by 52 metres (171 ft) wide moat. The walls are 8.62 metres (28.3 ft) wide at the base, tapering to 6.66 metres (21.9 ft) at the top. These walls served as both defensive walls and retaining walls for the palace. They were constructed with a rammed earth core, and surfaced with three layers of specially baked bricks on both sides, with the interstices filled with mortar.(Source Wikipedia.org)
The Palace of Heavenly Purity
The Gate of Divine Might, the northern gate
3. Great Wall. One of the seven great wonders of the world, the wall stretches 6,700 kilometers (4,163 miles) from the Jiayuguan Pass in Gansu Province to the Shanhaiguan Pass in Hebei Province and it took 2000 years to build. It was build to defend the terretories that startet appearing in 475BC-221BC and it was meant to protect the country from intrusion of the nomadic Hun ethnic minority in the north.
As you can see, you can get some really great pictures from the Great Wall, it is just stunning and you can not go to Bijing without seeing it.
4. Summer Palace (Yiheyuan). This imperial garden located in the northwestern outskirts of Beijing. It came into existence early in the 1750s and had once been a summer resort for the emperors in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). In 1860 the whole place was burned down by Anglo-French Allied Forces, however, Empress Cixi rebuilt the garden and made an artificial lake inside it.
5. Temple of Heaven. The temple was build in 1420 during the Ming Dynasty to offer sacrifice to Heaven. The Temple of Heaven is enclosed with a long wall. The northern part within the wall is semicircular symbolizing the heavens and the southern part is square symbolizing the earth. The northern part is higher than the southern part. This design shows that the heaven is high and the earth is low and the design reflected an ancient Chinese thought of 'The heaven is round and the earth is square'.
(one thing that is very important to remember when you go into any temple in China is that you can not step on the threshold, it is said to be Budda's head).
6. Chinese opera and acrobatics. There is nothing like it, it is unique in every way. as I was in Bejing with my school class we got to visit one of the schools where they get trained and educated for the opera and acrobatics. They start when they are very young about 4 or 5 I think it is and the school is extremely hard to get into. Only the "gifted" children will be able to go there. And we also got to see how strict the teachers are on the students. We were so lucky that they put on an performance for us as well, and they are really, really good.
So that day we went to the school and spend a few hours there, and in the evening the first night we went to the acrobatics show and the day after we went to the opera.
7. Thai Chi. I think almost every Chinese person does this in the mornings, at least when we went to one of the many parks of Beijing it looked like everybody from that area was there (and other parks we drove by). You have to get up really early to be a part of this. The start at 6 o'clock in the morning! It is so worth getting up for though. We had so much fun, and it is a lot harder that what it looks like. It is a fantastic experience and I think it is a big deal and an honor to be a part of something that is the every day ritual and the national sport of China.
8. Beijing or as it is also called Peking Duck, or maybe snake is on the menu tonight! Food is something else in Beijing and also the rest of China. I was very careful the first time I was there as I was very afraid of eating dog or some other animal that I do not want to eat. It is no secret that you can get just about anything served in China so if you are afraid of eating something a bit different, watch out for what you order. Dog, rat, rabbit, snake, monkey brain are just some of the dishes you can find on the menu. However, there are somethings you really should try if you ever go to China. First of all, the Peking Duck is a must. It is the most delicious dish you can ever get, and the chefs in Beijing take great pride in serving it to you. It is a true experience. If you want to try something out of the ordinary I can recommend snake! There are several restaurants that serve snake, just make sure you find one that are known for this and are recommended by tourists guides or something similar. I am scared shitless of snakes so when I heard we were going to a restaurant where they served snakes I did not feel all that great at all. My teacher tried to calm me down by telling me that probably nobody at the restaurant would eat it as you had to order that at least one week in advance (which is true, you do have to order it in advance and you are still not guaranteed that you will get it). Well, I guess it was the restaurant guest luck day, they had snake for all 4 tables who had pre ordered it. Great, hurray! They bring the snake alive to the table where the chef kills it by slitting its throat, and then lets the blood drip into small shots glasses, including the heart. The people at the table drinks this and the one who gets the heart is blessed with eternal luck and fortune. Snake is supposed to taste something like chicken, a little bit like rubber chicken, but very nice!
9. Shopping!!!!!!! Beijing is great for shopping, and I mean great. The quality of the clothes are brilliant, not so strange as China is the one country in the world where they make/sow most of the clothes for the rest of the world. And the prices are even better, at least for someone from Norway where everything is very expensive. As I have mentioned, the first time I went to Beijing I saw all the attractions, and some more), but the second time I just went for the shopping.
This picture is taken outside the Silkmarket, one of the biggest and busiest shopping malls I have every seen (well, actually not the biggest, just the most chaotic one). The first time we went in there we lasted for about 5 minutes before we had to go outside again, sit down, get something to drink and really prepare ourself for absolutely mayham and crazyness, you will not believe the stage of that place, be prepared, have a Chinese diet coke before entering the place:)
When you know what you are getting yourself into and you have been there for a little while you get used to all the crazyness. You will need a few hours in there so you just have to be patient. If you are looking for something a little more quiet you can try the Pearlmarket first. It is a bit smaller and do not have the same selection that you find at the Silkmarket, but it is very good as well. Trust me, you will be able to spend your money.
These two bags, big bags for that matter, is just our catch from the first day. After two days of shopping our hotel room looked like this!
10. Nightlife. In 2001 we only had one night where we were meant to go out, however, that turned out to be a total failure. The reason? Nobody spoke English so when we tried to find our way to a nightclub, nobody understood us and we ended up in something I do not think we should have been in. The second time I was in Beijing it was a lot easier, so many more people spoke english and also our hotel Radisson Blue had this great "address"card we had with us all the time. Just showed it to the driver and he took us there!
On that card they have "the bar street" as well! It wasn't the most busiest street on a weekday, but they had some really funny bars with proper Asian karaoke. Asian karaoke is just weird, or maybe it is not karaoke, maybe that is the actual singers of the bar!!!!!!????????? Anyway you should see it! I think a great advice is to research the nightlife a little bit before you go to Beijing and make sure you find an English speaking Chinese person who can write down a few good places for you. Do not count on the taxi drivers to speak a lot of English.
This is the bar street! Probably a lot more people during the weekends!
So that is my top ten list of what to do in Beijing, and I recommend everybody to go to China, it is truly something different. I can guarantee you will remember a trip to Beijing for the rest of your life. And to be honest, it is not the last time I have been there, can't wait to go back some day. Just to finish of this I have to put out some pictures from the flight back home to Norway. We flew over the Himalayas, and it is breathtaking!