Beijing (Part Two)
Trip Start Jul 08, 2008
117Trip End Ongoing
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We went to see the ‘Secret Wall’ together. The ‘Secret Wall’ was a Great Wall trip organised by the first hostel I stayed in offering a trip to an old part of the wall - and without any tourists. The trip was really cool and after driving past one the main parts of the wall on route and seeing all the coaches with tourists walking along the wall it was nice to have a ‘secret’ part to ourselves.
I noticed that all the scaffolding had come down around the buildings on Tiananmen Square. The spring clean was over and they had started to erect huge TV screens in preparation for the 60th anniversary celebrations. Over the coming days the metro would not stop at Tiananmen Square’s metro station and large parts of the area were being sealed off, allowing rehearsals to occur. It was around six weeks before the celebration but this continued night after night. Areas were blocked off with layers of defence ranging from, usually, elderly volunteers to swat teams with huge tanks big and guns to back them up.
I visited the Taoist Temple and also the Confucius Temple. Confucius’s temple was a nice serene place and had some really cool old trees. I’ve ended up going to a few Confucius temples but the Beijing one still remains my favourite. I met a nice Chinese guy in there who wandered around with me and helped melearn some new phrases. I also visited the Beijing Drum tower, were the drums are still played although more for the tourists these days than anything else.
On my last two days I visited the Hou Hai area, a trendy area set around a large manmade lake and the Summer Place . A nest of interesting Huntong’s lay off the main roads around the lake at Hou Hai and the lake itself hosted lots of trendy shops or cafes to hang out in. The old man in the picture below was one of many swimming in the lake. I was told by someone it was a daily activity that occurred all year round.I thought the Summer Place might be too touristy but it was an interesting place to wander around.
Most capitals are easy to get lost in but Beijing was the type of city that is good fun to get lost in. There are lots of interesting places to stumble across and surprises around every corner. In the end I stayed for two weeks, and didn’t manage a visa extension, but I was glad that attempting to renew my visa forced me to stay another week as I really enjoyed my time there.
The last two pictures are of a cool building in Beijing and also what I was advised was the Beijing bum but seems endemic across China – the pants with the big slit in the front and back for doing away with the need for nappies as a quick crouch down is all you need. It must be pretty cold though!