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Beijing, China
October 11th, 2009 by Kate
This park was one of four built along side the Forbidden City for the royal families.  The hill we are on is built of the debris from when they dug the moat around the wall (and also is rumored to hold a stash of coal).  The building in the background all lit up is the northern gate to the Forbidden City, and all the dark area behind it is part of it.  It is massive, over 6000 buildings!

This park was one of four built along side the Forbidden City for the royal families. The hill we are on is built of the debris from when they dug the moat around the wall (and also is rumored to hold a stash of coal). The building in the background all lit up is the northern gate to the Forbidden City, and all the dark area behind it is part of it. It is massive, over 6000 buildings!

Flowers.  That will be my lasting memory of Beijing.  There are flowers everywhere!  I know – not what I was expecting either.  But there they are – lining every freeway, in planters on every sidewalk, in giant arrangements in front of every office building, hotel, and apartment building around.  I figured it was in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the PRC, but our friendly driver Mr. Pei said no, every summer through fall there are flowers.

 Beijing is very very interesting.  We’ve been here almost a week and have enjoyed it enough.  The streets are all boulevards – very wide and grand, not surprising when you think that they make it a habit of marching 1 million-odd soldiers down the street for various reasons.  Visually, compared to Shanghai, it is a very low, very spread-out city.  Apparently for years and years no building could be built higher than the Forbidden City.  They have broken that rule now, and don’t get me wrong, there are a million tall hotels, office and apartment buildings, but they aren’t really really tall like in Shanghai.  There are quite a few parks and green spaces here too, and many of the buildings really look like Chinese buildings (in comparison to Shanghai where they were sky-scrapers or French looking) so you really get the feeling like you are in China.  I’m not sure though that even with the grand streets, park, historical buildings and flowers that I actually think that it’s pretty here.  I don’t know why, it has all the right ingredients to be a beautiful city, but to me it’s just not, I can’t put my finger on it.

 

The Red Columns of Tian'anmen Square

The Red Columns of Tian'anmen Square

We spent our first day here checking out Tian’anmen Square, which is as massive as you’ve heard.  With all the crowds, it took us almost an entire day to walk across it.  Plus we had to stop about a half million times for people to take pictures with the girls.  We did score some awesome “Mao watches” for a song after some hard-core bargaining but alas one has already stopped waiving and we are sad. 

The main entrance to the Forbidden City, with Chairman Mao watching over us!

The main entrance to the Forbidden City, with Chairman Mao watching over us!

Obviously, we learned no lessons from our little adventure in Suzhou!

Obviously, we learned no lessons from our little adventure in Suzhou!

 The city is so massive it really takes forever to get across town to the various tourist “sites”.  This, coupled with our promise to the girls to only do one major attraction a day has made it so that we’ve only just scratched the surface of Beijing.  Sadly, we are leaving tonight and never did make it out to the Olympic Park to swim in the “Cube”, but as we say to ourselves in each city (as we lament the things we didn’t get to)… “It’ll give us something to see when we come back someday!”

Oh Nacho, so quick you are to forget your alligence to Mexico and take up the Chinese flag!

Oh Nacho, so quick you are to forget your alligence to Mexico and take up the Chinese flag!


3 Responses  
Sam writes:
October 12th, 2009 at 8:01 pm

It sounds like such a beautiful place….. OH!!! I needed your address for were you will be staying on Halloween!!! I have something to send Tessa that is small and light so it won’t put on any weight, since you guys are traveling light.

Cricket Bourget writes:
October 14th, 2009 at 10:17 am

Tian’anmen Square–How awe-inspiring, to see such a historic place…. I can’t help but think of the famous photo of the trembling student facing down the tanks….
Love the composition of your park photo, with the glowing sunlit trees and Forbidden City entrance in the background; what a lovely memory.

And hey, WAY TO COWGIRL UP and get back on that rickshaw! Show it who’s boss!

corry writes:
October 15th, 2009 at 1:59 pm

I figured the lack of a blue sky (pollution) is what held that city back from looking beautiful. its like putting a dull filter on everything.

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