Took the fast train (300 km an hour) for the 400 km trip Friday after classes and explored for 2 days.
A few years ago we studied Chinese history in our homeschool studies and the kids learned about the Forbidden City and the Great Wall. It was all stories back then…
…. but last weekend they were standing on history!
The school schedule here is pretty crazy and there are only 3 holiday days in the whole semester. The vacation days are all together (next week) and everyone travels during this time. From what I understand it is the equivalent of Labor Day in the states, just a holiday for people to get time off work.
Originally we had planned to visit Beijing during this holiday but everyone told us it would be way to busy. I have been told that tourism is bigger in China than the states and I could believe it. Everyone is traveling next weekend!
So, when the opportunity came up to visit Beijing with some friends this past weekend, we grabbed it.
With a weather fluke we left Friday evening in a snow storm… just a random 4 hour snow storm in the middle of April. But after that the weather was beautiful.
The weekend was full of fabulous food, great sights, and fun company. Let me share with you the highlights:
On Saturday, after a wonderful Chinese breakfast at the hotel we explored the Forbidden City. Even though this is a huge place, and on a non-holiday weekend, it was still packed with people. This picture is in the inner court on the steps to the Hall of Union. From what we understood it was the building between where the man lived/worked (Palace of Heavenly Purity) and where the woman lived/worked (Palace of Earthly Tranquility).
Though they had a few different uses during the time the Forbidden City was being used, even the Chinese realized that women are more ‘down to earth’. :)
To the north was Tiananmen square. I am not sure this picture turned out that well, but it is proof we were there. Beyond the fact that it is an important place, it wasn’t that exciting. It is located right beside the Forbidden City so it is easy to see both.
In the afternoon we went to the Temple of Heaven. It is a few subway stops away from the Forbidden City but built around the same time. It was where the Emperor prayed and made sacrifices for a good harvest.
In this picture Ian is standing in the middle of the Circular Mound Altar. It is claimed that when you stand on this stone and speak your voice sounds different because of the shape of the stones all around. We weren’t able to find out because of the crowds of people there. We just got lucky for this picture because the kids are small enough to squeeze on to the stone in the middle of the crowds.
This picture is on the way to the altar. It is hard to see from the picture but the path down the middle (where the kids are standing) is taller than the walkway on both sides. It was the path that the emperor took. …. and it is always fun to feel important enough to walk on the special higher path
Please notice the amazing chopstick skills instead of the awkward smile
In the evening we hit the fancy shopping and eating street. These were really spicy noodles from one of the provinces down south. We also managed to score fries and poutine, and churros, so it was quite the foodie street.
I also found a super cool gift… but because friends and family read the blog too… I can’t say.
Sunday was The Great Wall. Though it could have been almost twice as cool if it weren’t for the crowds of people, it still rocked! We walked up to that building on the top right. This is the big tourist spot on the wall and sometime it might be cool to see some of the less common areas.
They both have Chinese names and the guy carved both names on the plaque. … sometime when I can get help I will try and explain their Chinese names and show you the symbols. Their writing is art and I have no idea how to make my keyboard make the symbols.
Finally, here are our super amazing guides and friends. They are so stinking cute! It has been such a blessing to find them. Nina is going to be taking a masters program in the UK next year and Trey will be taking a fancy computer masters down in Austin Texas. They are both brilliant and sweet Even though we have only known them for a few weeks it will be hard to see them leave in a few months.
So that was our trip to Beijing. It is a huge, but awesome city. The public transportation can be extremely crowded, but isn’t that hard to navigate and costs almost nothing.
It was a fun place for the touristy thing but we are pretty glad we live outside in our small city. The big things are fun to see, but wandering small markets and exploring the mountains is easy and close to where we are now.
In other news
Something pretty exciting is coming up next week. Find out more on Monday!