So with the bike no more, I made it to Beijing, a big change from Ulan Bataar! It turns out that contrary to popular belief leaving a motorbike in Mongolia is actually very easy. If your reading this and need to know how, get in touch. Beijing is huge, very busy, and littered with amusing translations, which will now litter this blog since I found it funny!
First stop in Beijing was the Forbidden City, watched over at the main gate as always by Chairman Mao. It was very busy, as is everywhere in China it seems!
Iíve never seen so many umbrellas with clear blue skies and bright sunshine. The Chinese have taken the sun protection message much more to their hearts than any other culture Iíve come across.
This stone bridge and pavilion are typical of the main halls of the Forbidden City. They all have separate names and different uses in the days when the city was really forbidden.
They get bigger and more impressive, surrounded by large squares.
The detail on each building is really amazing to see. The buildings are constantly being restored and various buildings have been rebuilt over the years as a result of fires.
The park at the north end of the Forbidden City has some impressive buildings of its own.
From there you can see the north gate of the Forbidden City.
And if you climb the hill, fantastic views across Beijing, including over the rooftops of the Forbidden City.
Be careful of falling down laughing when climbing the hill though, due to Chinglish. Confucius say...
Next day I headed to another of Beijingís tourist hotspots, the Summer Palace. As the name suggests China was run from here during the summer as it was thought cooler than the city. Seemed pretty damn hot to me when I was there but thereís no doubt it would be a nice place to have as your private home! Hereís a selection of the sights...
All the ancient architecture was giving me a thirst for the modern, so I headed to the site of the Beijing Olympics. I was pretty disappointed by the Water Cube, the site of the swimming events. Apparently it is a lot more spectacular at night when it is lit up.
I preferred the Birdís nest stadium, although the smog on the day dulled the effect somewhat. I reckon they should have chrome plated it to give it some bling!
This is the most controversial new building in Beijing, the still in construction China television HQ. I thought that the architecture was great, but not everyone agrees. One guy came up to me in the street and started a rant about how it looks like a pair of shorts and that I shouldnít take pictures of it because itís so ugly!
Not as ugly as the bit next door though, which they managed to burn down by accident during new year firework celebrations before it was ever occupied.
This is Ritan Park, itís a nice escape from the hustle and bustle of Beijing.
Itís also the site of some more cracking Chinglish!
I needed to get some souvenirs so I went to the famous antiques market (which doesnít seem to have many antiques) to try out me haggling skills! They sell all sorts, this stall was full of swords.
The Chinese seem to enjoy a nap whenever possible. Being in the middle of a very busy marketplace didnít bother this guy at all!
Thereís no going to Beijing and not heading to the Great Wall. I had another foggy day but the wall has a certain mystique in that type of weather.
There is also important and sage advice for visitors.
I was lucky enough to come across an ancient ritual being carried out on the wall while I was there. Or it could just be some lads creating their own Ďhilariousí photo opportunity!
Next stop was the Temple of Heaven, more Ming architecture....
This one was a change from the usual halls and pavilions for peace, meditation, glory etc.
For some reason the Animal Killing pavilion is the preferred location to play cards.
After that I went to Tiananmen Square
But Chairman Mao hall (with his body in it) was shut.
Not so the Drum Tower, used as a way of keeping time in imperial China.
It neighbour is the Bell Tower, which was also used to let people know the time and well as warn of impending invasion.
The underground is really good in Beijing, there are signs for everything.
On my last full day in Beijing I finally got to try Peking (Beijing?) Duck. Iím told that you havenít been to Beijing until youíve tried it!
Just time for one last instruction, before leaving Beijing for LA.
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