Beijing is renowned for its rich culture, history, palaces, temples, gardens, tombs, and of course the Great Wall. Checking out the capital was a must-do whilst in China. We had a great time and had some very Chinese experiences walking, eating and subwaying our way around the city.
We visited Forbidden City, located in the centre of Beijing. The palace served as the emperor’s home and a political centre of Chinese government from 1420 to 1912. We also learnt the ancient rulers of China had a few thousand concubines! (exclusive ‘special’ friends).
Our days in Beijing were also occupied with visiting Tiananmen Square (where nothing happened..) hiking the Great Wall, visiting friends and stuffing our faces with delicious Peking duck – which you must try when visiting this city!
Beijing also has very modern areas with flashy shopping centres, restaurants, cafes, and is a major connecting hub with its massive airport and railways. The city is a nice combination of old versus new.
The Great Wall
The ‘original’ wall was constructed approximately 2000 years ago using forms of brick, stone, tampered earth, wood and other materials. We even heard that deceased workers were also used and built into the wall!
The wall was an east-to-west line across the historical northern borders of the country to protect the Chinese Empire against any intrusions such as the Mongolians. Though the wall also worked very well as a highway for moving people and transporting equipment/goods across mountainous terrain.
Unfortunately, very little of the original wall now remains. We saw rebuilt sections, areas kitted out with souvenir stores, restaurants, park rides and tourists queuing to capture a photo of themselves at the same view point. All of this does steal away that genuine feeling of the place.
We entered the Great Wall from ‘Badaling’ (one of the most visited sections of the Wall) but we’ve heard there are other points of the wall you can visit which haven’t been completely re-constructed. This famous site was worth seeing and it definitely got your thighs working!