Thursday, April 1, 2010

A lot of walking

Gate of Heavenly PeaceMy feet are so sore! I easily walked over fifty kilometers today. Beijing is so big. Looking at the map, I didn't think it would take me that long to walk from place to place. What I didn't realize was that one Beijing "block" equals about ten in Calgary.

I started walking with the Forbidden City as my first destination. I got there fairly quickly, with thirty minutes to opening time so I killed some time walking around Zhongshan Park. It's a really pretty park, with people scattered all around doing various forms of exercise.

When I made back to the Forbidden City entrance, it looked like thousands of people were starting to gather. It was a long line up. I managed to get my ticket fairly quickly and hurried inside with the hope of getting some photos without hundreds of people in them. I wasn't too successful, but I did find a number of places where there werent too many people. There were so many cooridors!

View from Jingshan ParkFrom the Forbidden City, I made my way north to the Jingshan Park. It overlooks the city, built on a mound of dirt left over from the construction of the city moat. The views were pretty nice. Skyscrappers seemed to be rising in every direction. Nice views of the Forbidden City too.

On my way out, I decided to stop by an ATM to take out some cash. To my surprise my bank card didn't work. I tried two more nearby ATMs and same thing. I panicked, as this was the method I was hoping to use to fund my trip. With very little money in my wallet, I hurried back to my hotel and searched google for Beijing ATM use. It seems there are only a couple of banks that accept international bank cards, so my new mission became to find them. Using the internet, I found a couple of distant ATM machines and began walking. The first one I got to worked and I was very much relieved.

Temple of HeavenLooking at the map, I was not too far from the Temple of Heaven, so I headed in that direction. It took a long time to get there and I really should have used the train. The temple is surrounded by a beautiful park and that was refreshing after a long walk along busy streets. There isn't a whole lot to see at the temple itself, but it is structure often associated with Beijing. It too was swarming with tourists. One group in particular seemed to think it was a good idea for all fifty of them to wear neon green shirts. This made getting photos without them visible in it pretty tricky. I pretty much waited for all of them to leave.

After the Temple of Heaven, I headed up to Tiananmen Square, where I watched soldiers goosestep across a busy street for the sunset flag lowering ceremony. It seemed to be a popular event with the locals, I couldn't barely make out the top of their rifles. I spent a little bit of time hanging around Qianmen Daije, just south of the square, which is a wide street only for pedestrians.

As light disappeared, I headed back to my hotel. On the way I was asked by several women to join them for dinner. This is apparently a trick meant to lure you to an expensive restaurant where you end up flipping the bill. I also came across a few "art students" who want to practice English. One swore she met me before, thought I was German, then proceeded to try and sell me some paintings. I read about both of these occurances in the guidebook and quickly moved on.

Zongshan Park:

Zongshan Park

Forbidden City:

Forbidden City

Forbidden City

Forbidden City

Forbidden City

Forbidden City

Forbidden City

Jingshan Park:

Jingshan Park

Temple of Heaven:

Temple of Heaven

Tiananmen Square:

Tiananmen Square