Next big thing – Beijing

Beijing presents an adventure to those who are curious and brave. There is so much to see and do.  This is where the old mixes with the new;  you can experience the richness of the culture and history at the same time.  Transport system is very good so getting around on the subway is easy.  And Beijing is very safe. People are polite but the Chinese have a different approach to queuing – they don’t understand it and they will shove and push to get in front.  I quickly learnt to do the same!  There are several “must see” tourist attractions here and you will join the huge number of domestic tourists. The top and most famous places to visit include Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven, and The Great Wall of China. The Hutongs are also interesting places to visit. 

Hutongs are narrow alleys in old Beijing; some would call them ‘slums’. There are over 32million people living in Beijing , and this includes the ‘floating population’ i.e those who move around looking for work.  Most of the properties in Hutong were renovated for the Beijing Olympics whilst retaining their original character. The government has started to move people out of the Hutongs to build new homes, offering modern amenities etc but there is a reluctance amongst the elderly to move, and concern that they would not be able to return and that they would be priced out by the increasing number of the upwardly mobile youth.  Sounds familiar?

One of the things that amused me on our walking tour of the Hutong were these ‘piss boards’. They are literally pieces of wood used by the locals to cover vehicle wheels to protect them from dogs’ urine. They were everywhere in the Hutong!  

Tiananmen Square

The famous Tiananmen Square is the best place to start a sight seeing tour of the city. It is said to be the largest square in the world and that it can hold over a million people.  There is not much to do in such a large open space other than to watch and linger. I stood out like a sore thumb amongst the sheer number of domestic tourists who outnumbered international tourists by almost 10 to 1!!!!   It is not surprising as the population of China is about 1.4 billion. It is the largest populated country in the world!  It was refreshing and good to see the great number of local people taking such pride in their culture and heritage. 

The monument to the People’s Heroes and the Mausoleum of Chairman Mao occupy the centre of the square.  Large numbers of domestic tourists queue to see the embalmed body of Chairman Mao and pay their respects.  Security is tight in the square though not  visible and there is a security checkpoint on the way in to the Square. 

It was a very hot day in June and to avoid being sun burnt (despite applying loads of sun screen), I wore my denim jacket as a precaution! The locals didn’t take any chances either.They were well covered!  

The colourful display of plants and flowers in the square were  stunning. 

There is a lot to do and see in Beijing. I visited the following places of interest: The Great Wall of China,   The Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven (Titan Park), and Summer Palace, so I will continue my write up in future posts. 

The Great Wall of China and The Forbidden City.