Beijing – Squares, Stairs and Big Places

You can’t schedule a two-week visit to China without planning a stop in Beijing. But you also probably can’t do Beijing justice in just two weeks, let alone three days … Incredible!

Tianamen Square
& The Forbidden City

A lot of things in China strike you immediately as simply huge. Like Tiananmen Square. Said to be large enough to hold 1 million people, Tiananmen straddles the space between the old city walls (above right) and the entrance to the Forbidden City, once home to China’s Emperors, but now guarded (below) by Chairman Mao’s portrait. IMG_4755

As our first tourist stop on Sunday, Tiananmen was fun, and big. We walked across it, stopping a few times to marvel at its size and the the other tourists teeming around us (many of whom were taking our picture, or listening to our tour guide).

IMG_4810The entrance to the Forbidden City and the Imperial Palace was even more crowded, and the significance of these sites to the Chinese was palpable.

We walked the full length of the city and palace grounds, catching our private tour bus across the mote that still separates the City from the rest of Beijing’s 22 million residents.

IMG_3371After lunch, we toured the grounds of the Temple of Heaven, where emperors led prayers in support of good harvests during the Minq and Qing Dynasties, following its construction in the 1400s.

Monday: The Great Wall

The middle day of our Beijing visit was spent at the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall, which will get its own post shortly.

Rickshaws Through the Hutong

Tuesday was our last day in Beijing, and it was also a little more intimate, with a fun rickshaw ride through the historic Hutong (neighborhoods) in the center of the city, followed by lunch hosted by a family living in the Hutong on their fifth generation over 150 years.

After lunch, we headed to the Beijing Central Railway for a six-hour high-speed train ride to YueYang, ready for our tour Kiana’s home town and her original orphanage.