Monday, May 11, 2009

Beijing Post 1: The Forbidden City and Tienamen Square

I guess I never mentioned it since I've been uber busy lately, but I went to Beijing for our long weekend for Buddha's Birthday/Children's Day. It was definitely my favorite trip out of the country so far and definitely a must see for Asia.

We stayed at a great hostel called Peking Downtown Backpacker's Association. It is probably one of the best, if not the best hostel I've ever stayed at. We had a 4 person room which was 75RMB for the night ($11.00 USD/ 13,000 KRW). Our room had a private bathroom, with shampoo and soap included. The beds were pretty nice... for a hostel too. But the best part about the hostel was the staff. They were so helpful with everything and always got us to where we wanted to go by writing directions for us in Chinese so we could give them to cab drivers, or explaining how to get around on the bus. Since we had a huge group (9 people), they were able to hook us up with with our own private tours that cost the same as the group tours.

Anyway, the first thing we did when we got to Beijing was to head over to the Forbidden City. We got there at 3:30 and it closed at 5:00, so it didn't give us much time to look around. But, worse than that was the crowds here. This weekend was also a long weekend for China as well, and there were so many Chinese tourists, along with other tourists in the city that everything was so overcrowded on the weekend. We purchased tickets to see a special exhibition inside the Forbidden City, so we felt really rushed to get there, and it was on the opposite side of the palace.
Here is the entrance of The Forbidden City.

We quickly made our way through and I really didn't get a chance to take in much or get to understand much about the Forbidden City. I guess I'll have to go back to Beijing to go again.... preferably not on a long weekend.

We finally made our way to the special artifacts exhibition. If you like jewelry and that sort of thing, then you'll really like this part of the Forbidden City. It was nice there too because there weren't many people in there. I could finally breathe again...

A crown in the artifacts exhibition

After we made our way through the Forbidden City, we walked to Tienanmen Square. I remember when I was in high school I wrote a huge term paper on the Tienanmen Square Massacre. I had always wondered what it would look like in person. Really, it's not at all how I pictured it... but then again, I'm sure a lot has changed in the past 20 years since it happened.

There were tons of tourists walking around the square. Most of them were Chinese tourists, visiting Beijing for the long weekend
This is Tienanmen. The actual gate itself.

There were police (military?) everywhere because every evening at sundown they have a flag lowering ceremony.

Here is the flag lowering ceremony. There were so many people here I couldn't see anything! I'm still short, even in China....

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