As we approached the forbidden city, a number of people approached us offering guide services. One person in particular, named Julia, offereed to show us the main parts of the Forbidden city in a tour lasting two hours for 180 yuan. She spoke very good English and seemed very polite and nice, so we took up on her offer. The tour started of very weel (we had to buy the entrance ticket for her as well). She showed us some of the attractions and told stories about the building. Then she took us to a small section within the city, without any sign boards, and tokk us in a room, where allegedly the nephew of the last emperor greets visitors and you can take a picture with him, and have a cup of tea. We felt something was odd (having read the tips about tea tasting on this site), and declined to sit and have tea in that room, or meet the nephew, and came out of that section. As soon as we did that, the guide suddenly lost all interest and declared that the tour was over (it was less than an hour after we had started). Having paid the 180 yuan, we decided to explore the city on our own, and actually managed to find and see many more interesting things on our own.
While exploring the Northeast section of the Forbidden City, I wandered along a quiet avenue from the north tip to due south. On my left, down another alleyway, I peered a figure peering back at me. Nonplussed, I thought I had intruded into a private area, but after a moment I realized I was gazing at the full-figure painting of a lady gazing back at me. I was so charmed by the sight that I took this photo. Alas, I cannot find out anything about her in my guidebooks. Does anyone know who she is or who she represents, peering around the door? Look closely, or you'll miss this shy mistress!
The approximately 10 kilometers from JINSHANLING to SIMATAI is spectacular. Unlike other sections of the wall that are crowded with tourists and vendors, this stretch is in its original condition. The hike takes 4.5 to 5 hours (depending on your physical conditions) and includes 31 towers. The views are breath taking.
Locals will try to fallow you in order to sell some souvenirs, and also work as a kind of guide. My experience tells that if they spoke good English that might no be a bad idea at all, so you can ask some questions about the wall and get to see things that you probably would miss if you were on your own, like the name of the soldiers that helped build the wall, engraved on the bricks in certain locations.
You should take your time, enjoy it as much as you can, breathe in the whole experience and keep the memories for the rest of your life.
Factory 798 is the 20,000 square meters district where galleries, studios and trendy eateries collide. It is the much talked-about child of the international art scene - CNN even rated it one of the top five tourist sites in Beijing.
Open gallery doors encourage browsing, new exhibits often rotate in, and classy cafes provide welcome rest stops. Be prepared for cultural ilgrims photographing themselves in various poses amidst the unique blen of factory-chic and art.
You can get involved in the dancing, though it seems like it's done by those who essentially know what they're doing... locals, predictably. But it's still nice to watch and listen- and maybe donate a bit to their cause- they are providing a service, if you will, adding to the atmosphere of the place.
Hang out with the locals and play cards or other games in the shade at the Temple of Heaven. It seems like a good hang-out, and, especially if you speak Chinese, a good place to be with the locals.
If you've already seen everything in Beijing, go and visit the countryside...three hours by train and you'll spend a nice weekend in the valley surrounded by mountains....
There are several activities you can choose from: horseback riding, rent a jeep, and in the evening you'll be served a grilled lamb, vegetables and chinese beer in karaoke bar...
Trip is very cheap, but accommodation is poor...
I wish I could remember the name of this specific little town I visited...
On the south side of the Forbidden City lies a nice stream pathway. It is hard to notice if you aren't looking for it, as it is hidden between the City wall, with another identical wall blocking access from the sidewalk/street.
This is the same stream that you cross over to get into the Forbidden City.
To access the pathway:
From the Tiananmen gate Forbidden City entrance, head east about 100m. You will see doorways for a public toilet set back against the wall. The park's access door is in the wall, beside the bathroom doors, and looks like it's part of the bathroom complex. It comes out in the next block over, where the main road crosses it, and continues on.
A nice walk, much better than walking along beside the traffic and crowds on the sidewalk.
Maybe people didn't enter the doorway because they thought the path was part of the bathroom area?
We used the pathway quite a few times, just walking around. It never had more than a handful of people in it, no matter what time it was and how crowded the sidewalks were.
Walking to the Temple of Heaven, the girl and I stumbled upon a medium sized ceramics market, to the side of a park.
The market is located to the north of the eastern Temple gate. Just follow that road up, it's on the left.
Prices were good, as it's away from the main tourist area downtown. Bargain hard!
If you enjoy ice sculptures and carvings go to Yanqing County (a spot famous for its beautiful landscapes and ice scenery in winter) for the Longqingxia Ice Lantern Festival, the only ice festival around the Beijing area and held in the lowest latitude in the world, usually for about six weeks some time between December and February.
The festival includes carnival parades, caravans, skiing, ice fishing and ice slides, colorful floats and teams of skaters, lucky draws, fireworks, etc., and all the ice lanterns displayed are based on Chinese legends, cultural interests, famous buildings and landscapes.
At the same time, you have got two nice options while participating in the festival,
- Taking a tour of the snow-covered Badaling Great Wall and enjoy the magnificent scenery
- Participating in ice sculpture, skiing competitions, and ice climbing activities at the Kangxi Grassland. Ice-skating, ice motorcycles and ice ploughs are also available for your pleasure and fun.
How to get to Yanqing:
You can take Bus 919 from Deshengmen on the North Second Ring Road to Yanqing or drive along Badaling Highway to the north end of the highway (it’s about 80 kilometers (56 miles) north of Beijing).
Last summer, I slept on the Great Wall. It was probably one of the best experiences I have had in China so far. We first went to Jingshanling section of the Great Wall (way more remote than the touristy Badaling section) and got to watch the sunset on the wall. Then we went to a Chinese village for a local meal, the people were so nice and the food amazing. We spent the night in a watchtower and the next morning breakfast was brought to us by our guide then we hiked along the Wall for a couple of hours.
I totally recommend it if you want to actually experience the less touristy parts of the Great Wall. Also I recommend it if you want to see some of rural China. Being able to see a Chinese village is pretty neat.
I hear you can do it on your own, but I went through a travel company who arranged the transportation, guide, food, and flashlights. I included the webiste so people interested can check it out.
Just near the Starbucks coffee shop at the southern end of Qianhai Lake, you can often see old men engaging in a Chinese form of transitory fluxus art. Using a small bucket of water and a long stick with a sponge tip, these old men create messages on the sidewalk in Chinese characters. After a couple of minutes, the breeze evaporates the text. It was fun watching the small Chinese boy seen in this photo, as he tried to make out what the old man was writing, and what could be the meaning of it all.
I have visited mosques all over the world but the two I visited in China are a especially unique. That is because they incorporate a fascinating blend of Chinese and Islamic architecture. For example there is no recognizable minaret here but a tower more commonly seen in a Buddhist or Taoist temple. This tower is in fact the Wangyue Lou and it is from here that the local iman observes the stars in order to calculate the commencement of Ramadan. Curiously I visited during Ramadan. Usually a mosque might not allow non-Moslems access during the holy period but that was not the case here. Unfortunately I could not enter the prayer hall which is not open for non-Moslem at anytime of the year. You can see into it from the front portal. From there you can seem the bright red columns decorated with Arabic inscriptions. This was a very joyous place during my visit, mostly because it was Ramadan but also for the fact that mosques are social places too. A place to meet other worshipers and friends.
The Ox Street Mosque is located in the Islamic quarter of Beijing. This is not the most delightful part of town. The beggers that block your way into the entrance are the most persistent I came across in China. The mosque is open daily from 8am to 5pm and it costs Y10 to enter.
well I actually find the houses beside the lake beside Forbidden City much nicer to look at and also more interesting compared to the Forbidden City which is so huge no doubt, but has repetitive structures as well ..which could be quite boring at times.
One day, one of the guys working opposite my hotel handed me over his helmet and “told” (told, well, with signs we could understand each other) to go in, visit a bit, make some pictures. As I noticed many times, it is the people who have few or even nothing to offer who at the end give the most; here it was not a big deal to go on the construction site, but I am sure if I had asked officially or so, I would not have been allowed to go there.
So, working people here, probably coming from the poor countryside of China, find a living in the big megalopolis. Sorry it is not exactly a tourist “tip”, but I am curious and think other people are curious and I think it has some “charm” or “exotism” to visit places and people like that.
Main picture:Steel, steel, steel and little guys; look, there are the white ones with blue helmets (and protection glasses), the white helmets, the yellow helmets; each “team” or brigade makes a specific job. They look really tiny on the site and with the giant steel beams.
Picture 2: Keep smiling. . . hard working people still keep morale.
Picture 3: Building scaffolds, the guys there look like ants with twigs.
Picture 4: The giant hook and the little guys. . .
Picture 5:He reminds me comic movies (Harry Langdon, Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton. . . ) on the beam, waiting for a cable to tie it ; but he probably is not playing. . . .
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