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Beijing, China

We've been in Beijing for close to a week now scouring the city and all of the big sites. From Qingdao we took a 6 hour bullet train to Beijing. Along the way it was easy to see why all of your clothes say "Made in China" on the tag. There was practically no residential housing on the trip. Almost the entire countryside was devoted to factories and farming. We saw greenhouses as far as the eyes could see. The poverty that could be gleaned from the train ride was surpassed by anything that I have ever seen.
We got to Beijing around 3 o'clock. Leaving the train station we followed arrows to the exit and ended up in a parking garage underneath the station where taxis were lined up waiting to take the throngs of tourists and buisnesspeople to their destinations. When we got in our cab,the driver knew right where to go and got us to our hostel in about 30 minutes. We quickly unloaded and took off to make the most of the remaining daylight. After breezing around the hutong (old part of the city) and coming across the Lama temple we headed for Tian'amen Square. We got to Tian'amen Square during sunset which was perfect so we could see the contrast between day and night.
It turned out we made a good decision by checking out the square that night. When we went back the next day it was blocked off due to a military spectacle. We gazed at the Qianamen Gate and then went to try to get inside the National Grand Theater or the Egg as it is commonly referred to. This structure is brand new (built in 2007) and looks like an alien spaceship. There were no tours available until 1pm and we didn't feel like hanging around so we went to the Lama Tibetan Temple.
The next day we had clear and sunny skies. Up until this point it was dry and gloomy and we were beginning to wonder if there were ever any sunny days in Beijing. We decided that it was the perfect day to visit the Forbidden City. We entered the palace and spent the next three hours exploring the historic remains. I have been to so many temples in the past year but this was distinct in its enormity. The engravings and golden tiled roof made it the most remarkable thing that I have witnessed in Asia so far. We walked what seem to be an eternity and eventually exited through the back entrance to meet the teeming hordes of "businessmen." These "businessmen" try to sell tours to the Hutong and the Great Wall. They do not take no for an answer. They will try to engage you in conversation by asking where you are from and where are you going. Rachel would answer, "none of your business." We stopped in to eat in the Hutong before going to a park right next to the Forbidden Palace. We climbed to the top of a hill in a park that overlooks the Forbidden Palace with a view that is stunning. After this we were exhausted and we made our way back to the hostel.
No visit to Beijing is complete without a hike along the Great Wall. Rachel recommended going back to the Simati section of the wall that she went to a couple of years ago. This part is for people in reasonably good shape since we had to hike 10 kilometers. The Great wall was one of the greatest things that I had ever seen in my life. Really spectacular views. It looks like something from the Lord of the Rings movie. By the time we finished the trek we were completely exhausted. I am still extremely tired from the night before. We are both having a great time and were impressed with the city. Beijing rocks! I'd keep writing but were trying to go to the Temple of Heaven. Life is rough.


permalink written by  zachel on March 9, 2009 from Beijing, China
from the travel blog: Zack and Rachel's Asian Chronicles
tagged GreatWallLamaTempleBeijing

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