Trip Start Feb 25, 2008
2Trip End Feb 28, 2008
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It was very easy to catch a bus for the city at the airport, but I was not sure how to get to my hostel from the terminal at the city. When I got off the bus, a hotel runner came up and talked to me in English, showing his hotel pics, but I had a reservation for another hotel and so I tried to escapef from him.
To tell you the truth, the hostel was worse than I had expected. I was sure I booked a cheepest dormitory room, but they said it was not available, when I arrived. When I tried to book tours for Beijing Opera and Shaolin Kung Fu Show, they didn't have the tours during my stay, because of lack of participants. The courtyard I had seen on their webpage was much smaller than I imagined. In addition, I took a Kung Fu class the next day, but I just imitated instructor's movements in a nearby square. The launge on the first floor was packed with guests, the meals were expensive and the atomosphere was like in a mahjong parlor. Anyway, I didn't like the hostel very much.
There was a shopping street just in front of the hostel. I strolled around and enjoyed shopping for suvenirs again. But I had something important to do. Because I couldn't join a Great Wall tour of my hostel, I had to try another hostel tour. I made a call at Down Town Backpackers Accommodation, which operated a hiking tour from the Jingshanling to Simatai Great Wall. Fortunately, they were operating the tour for the next day, but they told me to drop by their hostel beforehand to pay the fee
In the next morning, I got up very early to see the Flag Raising Ceremony in Tiananmen Square. I was waiting for a while with a crowd of people in the underpass near the Tiananmen, but after a minute, I recognized that they were not a crowd for the ceremony. Then I thought it was alright to see the ceremony from the opposite side of the street and got out of the underpass. There, I found another crowd waiting in line. It was a crowd for the ceremony, but I was surprised to see a lot of peple wait more than one and half hour until the ceremony started. Although the ceremony lasted only 5 minutes and it was not satisfying. After the ceremony, I found another waiting line of people in the square. They were waiting for the Chairman Mao's Mausoleum to open at eight, although it was five past seven at the time. I knew that even if I waited for another one hour there, I could only glance at Mao's body. So I passed the mausoleum.
When I got back to the hostel, my kung fu master was waiting for me
In the afternoon, I finally started sightseeing and the first destination was Forbidden City, or Palace Museum. It was the Palace, but it is a museum now. However, the buildings are more interesting than the housed treasures. When I visited the museum, the buildings were partly being restored and it was a big disappointment. Probably that was because the Beijing Olimpic Games would begin soon and more tourists would visit Beijing. Anyway, in the back of the main buildings, there were some reminders of the last emperor, Pu Yi. I am a big fan of the movie "The Last Emperor" and so I liked his reminders very much.
The Last Emperor Trailer
The Last Emperor was released in 1987 in the U.S. and won "nine" Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director.
The Forbidden City
Check out fine arts of the palace with the video
Behind Forbidden City, the spacious park called Jingshan Park was spread. I had heard from a Japanese friend that I could catch a whole view of Forbidden City from the top of the hill in Jingshan Park. So I climbed up to the hill, although it was a little bit hard. The view from there was just OK, because there were some growing trees in the way of the view. Honestly, I prefered the view of Forbidden City from White Dagoba in Beihai Park next Jingshan Park. Anyway. I caught a taxi at the back of Jingshan Park and headed for Downtown Backpackers Accommodation.
At the hostel, I booked a Jinshanling and Simatai Great Wall hiking tour for only 280 RMB. Then I realized they also had a tour to Beijing Opera and Shaolin Kung Fu Show. It was a pity that Beijing Opera was not available on the night, but I was able to book a ticket for Shaolin Kung Fu Show. I thought I should have had stayed in that hostel. Anyway, because I had some time to depart for the show, I asked the hostel receptionist if I could go to Summer Palace, but her answer was "No", because it was too far from there. So instead, I decided to try Bei Hai park. After I paid for tickets, I wanted to go to a bank to withdraw some money, but I couldn't find it or, what was even worse, I was lost in a hutong, although I was looking for the bank with a map. Eventually, I gave up the bank and headed for Bei hai Park.
Bei Hai Park was a beautiful, large park with a lake frozen partly. There was a island with Wite Dagoba, where I caught a good view of Forbidden City. The park was serene and not touristy. I walked up to Nine Dragon Wall located on the north side of the lake
Bei Hai Park of Beijing Video
This is a quality introduction video of the park by Geobeats.
While I was walking back to Downtown Backpackers Accommodation, I got hungry. Luckily I found a dumpling shop near the hostel and the dumpling was really good. So on the next day, I stopped by the shop again after the Great Wall tour. Anyway, when I got on the tour bus to the Kung Fu Show, there were a Japanese couple talking about their travel, and three Europeans. I felt the Red Theater, where the show was held, was a little bit far from the hostel, but it was not. I felt that way, because of a traffic jam. The theater had a English subtitle screen, but it had all the performance was also held in English. That was probably because almost all the guests were foreigners. The show had a story, not just kung fu actions. It was different from what I had expected, but it didn't matter.