Beijing was the first stop on our trip to China and we allowed two full days for the visit. On the first day in Beijing, we got up early and headed to Jingshan Park to watch the elders practice tai chi. The park is peaceful and has a great view of the Forbidden City to the south.
We entered the Forbbiden City through the northern Divine Might Gate and ended our visit through Meridian Gate which opens up to Tiananmen Square. The Forbidden City gets its name from the fact that no one could enter or leave the palace without the permission of the emperor. Except for a few annexes, a lot of the buildings in the complex are closed. The outside of Meridian Gate is heavily guarded and features a portrait of former leader Mao Zedong. We walked around the sombre Tiananmen Square and then got on the subway for the Summer Palace.
The Summer Palace is another Chinese architectural achievement but this one’s got a woman’s touch. The palace was rebuilt in 1886 and 1902 to serve as a summer resort for Empress Dowager Cixi of the Qing Dynasty. Cixi was a concubine to Emperor Xianfeng and she gave him a son. A lot of the palace’s architectural details are said to have been of her choosing. The palace is surrounded by beautiful Kunming Lake. We circled the lake and crossed the unique Jade Belt Bridge, a bridge with a tall arch also known as Camel’s Back Bridge.
We ended our evening at Li Qun Roast Duck Restaurant. This place is popular with tourists and locals alike for its delicious Peking duck.
No visit to Beijing would be complete without a trip to the Great Wall of China. On our second day we got on a local bus and travelled to Badaling section. As we approached the wall, the weather got significantly colder.
A lot of other sections of the wall have been closed which makes Badaling even more popular and crowded with tourists. The walk along the wall was challenging. The winds were cold, the climb was at times steep which was made even more challenging by the large crowds of tourists blocking the way. If you get far enough from the wall’s entry point, you will find yourself away from the crows and you can enjoy the magnitude of this human accomplishment and the majestic mountains surrounding it.