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China Day 2 - Beijing

Added: August 09, 2009

Tags: China city lake photos
Morning 7th of July starts with a wake up call. Twice. Either human factor or failure of technique. Or too eager receptionist. Or maybe I did not say Xie Xie (谢谢) the first time, because I thought it is an automatic call.

Rich has warned us during briefing yesterday breakfast in China is different from what we are used to. It is the same stuff you will get for dinner. So he usually does not bother with it. But not us! We came here to taste as much of Chinese meals as possible... at least I did (well I looked forward for Tibetan meals more, but that does not eliminate Chinese ones).


Tiananmen Square

After breakfast Rich taken our passports because he needed to confirm our flight to Lhasa. It cannot be done without passport. So while it is good idea to have your passport with yourself just in case Chinese authorities were not sure you are foreigner we started our first exploration without them. We'd better behave :-)

Our bus stopped about 500m from Tiananmen Square, because it could not stop closer. We walked rest of and in short time we stood at vast square where thousands of tourists slowly gathered. The sky was overcast, but less than yesterday, because sun was slightly visible. It was only 9:30 but it was unbelievable hot (for me). So I slightly appreciated we did not have blue sky (how could I do that?!?).

We were allowed to look around ourselves for 20 minutes twice. Enough of time to take photos and to hope we will get to some shade soon. We did not go to Chairman Mao mausoleum, we left this possibility to 2 millions of Chinese already queuing there.


Previous and following photo shows Zhengyang Men tower at the one end of Tiananmen Square.

Mausoleum of Chairman Mao.

This reminds me some sculptures from our past.

Forbidden City

We continued with nearby Forbidden City, place where Chinese Emperors lived. If Tiananmen Square seemed vast to me, it is nothing compared to size of Forbidden City.

We have spent rest of morning there, starting with guided tour and ending with about 1 hour of free time. Number of people quadrupled compared to Square. We kept on the left side, because it is usually unoccupied compared with right hand side where Chinese tours go. Both sides are basically the same so our choice seems perfect. Still, we got to crowd in the middle if we wanted to see inside of some building (usually empty, some of them having only a throne).

As we passed to next courtyard we were told short description what is around and something about history (quite interesting and short enough), then free time with meet up point in gate to next courtyard. It was perfect way to progress, because we could hide in shade of gate while waiting for rest of group.

Roofs of buildings around outer courtyard.

In the 1st courtyard


A sample of crowds. We were warned of of picpockets in crowds.


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As you can see left side is not crowded at all.


The throne in some of buidlings in the middle (it is hard to remember which one it was).

Animals on the roofs hide big nails holding the weight of massive roofing tiles. I am surprised with presence of lightning conductors as the dragons were supposed to defend against lightnings.

If I had to prove my claim about crowded right side and empty left side I would probably use this panorama.

During our free time in Forbidden City we checked out houses of concubines shortly, but we were not impressed by them much so we went back to beginning of City to retake a few photos there. Then we rushed back to see rest of City - gardens. But my photos are not very good (too many people, not enough of time), so I am not showing any.

Do not forget to click to Afternoon link to see how we spent rest of this hot day.