The Great Beijing Adventure: from the Hutong to the Forbidden City

Beijing hutong temple of heavenDays are moving rapidly in China and as the hours fly by, it seems that the one week long trip will only leave me wanting more. Since I haven’t got used to the local hour in Beijing, I’m currently visiting by day and writing by night, which in a way is quite nice. Although the last two sleepless nights have brought me to the point where I wasn’t able to visit “another imperial palace” today due to exhaustion, not sleeping at night does provide me with interesting Chinese TV shows…currently “China’s got talent” is playing in the background with a Chinese lady dancing on Ke$ha’s “Take it off”.

Enough about me, let’s talk about the city: Beijing has been surprisingly friendly these past two days, both in terms of weather and of (English speaking) people. We had a bright blue sky and around 20 degrees Celsius both on Thursday and on Friday, are living in one of the last remaining Hutongs of the old city (honestly don’t know if this hotel will still exist by the time we get back because of the pressure that is being put into a forced modernization and sky scraper-ization to soothe the needs of a growing population) and have great restaurants on our very small street. Plus, we reached the best Beijing roast duck according to Tripadvisor in around 15 minutes, making this first trip a “coolinary” experience by accident.

We didn’t get the chance to ride a cab because going to places by public transportation is much easier due to our location and also extremely cheap (2 quai/RMB per trip, meaning around 0,25 Euro). What we did do (and I’m very proud of it) is walk until we almost dropped. All the places you “must” visit in Beijing or to be precise, Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven and its gardens and the Summer Palace – that we haven’t seen yet due to my exhaustion – are HUGE. You basically walk from one courtyard into another without even realizing how much you had to move up and down and left and right. These places look like they were especially built for a population this size.

Even though I thought that the Forbidden City would impress me the most, I still can’t pick out a favourite place in Beijing, but maybe you will help me. Do you know a place aside from the Great Wall that MUST be explored in Beijing and isn’t always presented in the online tour guides you read before getting here? Please comment as fast as you can, I’m really curious about your opinion and experiences regarding the capital of China.

[Wangfujing Street and its creatures + Shanghai and its Bund will be posted anytime soon…]

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