It was my first time to visit Beijing last April. I was on a tour with friends, finally got a chance for few days off from work. I was amazed how big the city was.
Once in the Capital, you must immediately get a map to avoid being literally “lost in Beijing”.
First in our itinerary was the Tiananmen Square, the largest square in the city, which was so vast that it takes several minutes for one to get to the other side where the Forbidden City or the Palace Museum is located. (mind you, it takes about a day to cover all areas inside the Palace)
Forbidden City is called such because no ordinary person can enter without the permission of the emperor.
Home for the royalty during the past dynasties, it is a huge area with 8,700 rooms. It is also home for decades-old artifacts and art works.
Just in one of the side of the Forbidden City, one cannot help by admire the flower gardens and decades-old trees at the Zhongsan Park.
Here is a photo of the yellow tulips. Yellow is the color of royalty in China.
You must learn to haggle for about 50 percent or 75 percent the price for an item, especially if you are getting more than one piece of the same. The more items you buy, the more you can get them at lower prices.
At the other end of the market are various food stalls where you can enjoy exotic foods such as scorpions…then there are Peking ducks, and rice toppings.
But I found out that the food is quite expensive in this alley than the restaurant in Donghuamen Snack Bar where my friends and I had a late supper after our arrival.
Don’t forget to get your souvenir photos at the Water Cube just across the stadium. It is good to also come here late afternoon and early evening where you can enjoy the lights in both structures.
Nearby is a commercial area where tour guides usually bring their guests. While it is educating to know how silk is woven into cloth or a pillow or a comforter, it is quite expensive to buy one for your self.
It’s all business. I learned that there is no such thing as free lunch since a group tried to sell as herbal medicines — which are very expensive — after we got a brief foot massage for free.
It’s all nice sipping that various flavors of tea also when our tour guide led us to a tea house where they taught us how to prepare tea. But then the sales persons will also persuade you to buy the quite expensive tea leaves in their store after the free taste test. (note: tea leaves by the kilos can be bought at much affordable prices in other stores, not in those areas where your tour guides bring you).
And to enjoy the breeze and relax a bit for the rest of the evening, you and your friends can enjoy a dinner and maybe a few drinks and good music at the restaurants and bars lined up at the Houhai Lake area.
Next stop…Great Wall Mutianyu.