My first stop in China was to Beijing. After getting my bags held up along the way in Shanghai, I arrived in Beijing for 3 days with nothing but the clothes on my back (and the cameras in my carry on). Beijing is in northern China and it was winter, so it was freezing cold! Thankfully I had worn a scarf on the plane!
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Park near the Temple of Heaven
Before visiting the Temple of Heaven, we checked out a park nearby early in the morning. Here you can find many things you are unlikely to see in America. There were hundreds of elderly people gathered playing games, cards, stretching, doing yoga, playing hacky sack, singing, and exercising. There was also an area I like to call the "in person tinder" where parents brought worksheets describing their children (height, salary, education, a photo, etc) and placed them on the ground in the park. Other parents would go around trying to find a suitable mate for their child. Check out some of the happenings in this park!
Temple of Heaven
An architectural masterpiece built in the1400s for emperors from the Ming and Qing dynasties.
The city square in the center of Beijing, contains the Monument to the People's Heroes, the Great Hall of the People, the National Museum of China, and the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong. Mao Zedong proclaimed the founding of the People's Republic of China in the square on October 1, 1949.
The Great Wall
The Great Wall (Juyongguan) is one of the “Seven Wonders of the World”! I got the chance to climb/walk a small portion of the 3,700-miles for about half of a day. The steps are totally uneven, one step might be 6 inches tall and the next 2 feet. It was pretty difficult on the uphill portions and you had to constantly be watching where you stepped, even though this section (and a lot of sections) had been rebuilt. I walked most of it alone and it was a great experience to be in a place so grand, alone in my thoughts.
We took a ride with some locals to see a hutong which is essentially a neighborhood that people live in. We were lucky enough to get a home cooked meal by a local family with noodles made from scratch!
Before I went to Beijing, I was so lucky to have made a friend from there named Mona. She was so sweet and came and met me, showed me around and took me to another hutong at night on the subway. I didn't bring my camera, but the hutong she brought me to that night was quite different than the one pictured above. It had a lot of shopping and eating and was a spot where people would go to hang out.
The hotel I stayed at in Beijing was right next to where the 2008 Olympics were held. I got to see the amazing buildings built for the ceremonies, and they were lit up every night, full of people enjoying the space.
Beijing is a city of rings, all formed around the center, which is where the Forbidden city is. This is the former seat of the emperors throughout the Ming and Qing dynasties, and now home to the National Palace Museum
A former retreat place for royalty, this palace has a man made lake, now a serene retreat for the public. It is huge, and beautiful, but only a few feet deep.
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