26.07.2009 - 28.07.2009 35 °C
We got an overnight train from Xi'an and arrived in Beijing early in the morning. After waiting for our room to be free we checked in and showered. On the first day we spent it getting our bearings and having a look at the big shopping street in central Beijing. We really like it so far, it's busy busy (as with the whole of China) but quite modern as it has only just been redone for the olympics! We also went to see Harry Potter, which was in english so success all round!
On the second day we went to Tiananmen Square, which was amazing to finally see. Not as big as you think its going to be as Mao's mausoleum is right in the middle of it, but it was still huge and full of people (and cctv cameras!). Apparently there are lots of plain clothed policemen placed in the square to 'maintain order'! We walked around the square for a bit and then went into The Great Hall of the People, which is where their congress meets. Luckily they were not in session so we got to go in, which was great. Inside is a huge auditorium which seats 10,000 'politicians' who basically run the whole country! Really impressive room though, in 50's style (bless communism, so behind the times). After that we headed back to the market area off the main shopping street, which was everything you expect china to be. Market stalls piled high with tat, we have never seen so much rubbish being sold in one place. We are ashamed to have bought a couple of things!
Today we had a fantastic day. We started off going to see the Forbidden City (called the Palace Museum here - doesn't really have the same ring does it?). Anyway, after queuing for about 20 minutes, we finally got tickets. It was fantastic to finally walk around it, and the buildings looked really impressive. Unfortunatly the crowds got to us eventually and we ended up searching for exits towards the end. After that we crossed the road and walked up the hill behind the Forbidden City, from where we got fantastic views of the whole complex. After walking back down we went to another park next door, Beihai Park, within which there is the famous White Dagoba, which sits on a hill on an island right above a huge lake. We walked around for a bit and then hired a mini speed boat on a whim and spent the next hour going all the way round the lake. Even though the lake was crowded as well, we managed to escape the crowds for a short time! Once we were back on dry land, we went and looked at the Drum and Bell Tower, which were much larger than we thought they would be!
We plodded back home and had the most amazing dinner ever at a restaurant which served some oddly labelled meals. Naturally there was only one choice for us, Peking Duck. They serve it just like they do in the UK, but its 10 times better and 10 times cheaper! We have another busy day planned for tomorrow!
Hope you are all well,
Miss you lots,
Lots of Love,
Chris and Alex xxx