Classic Beijing

2011-05-26China travel Guide

Back in 2007, my trip in northeastern China with my University Program ended finally by the awe-inspiring visit of the capital city of Beijing. Most famous Chinese city for its great historical and cultural background, Beijing was the destination that everyone was waiting for during this one-month trip. A destination full of hope and expectations that didn’t deceive us indeed at the end for its many sightseeing and great attractions.
Tian’an men square, Great Hall of the People & Forbidden City
Spending 3 to 4 days in Beijing city, we had the chance to see the most major scenic spots that attract tourists visiting China. Our first day in Beijing spent in the must-visiting and most symbolic place of Beijing city and China’s power: the Tian’an Men Square and Forbidden City. Arriving early in the morning, the place was already filled with tourists coming from all over the world. Located in the very center of the city, Tian’an Men Square was surrounded by a huge traffic but while standing in this emblematic place we didn’t even noticed the sound of all of this. There, we were all standing in one of the world’s most famous central square. Everywhere were standing some walking retailers of postcards and other souvenirs of Beijing. The atmosphere was so impressive to us, standing in front of the Forbidden City where locates the big portrait of Chairman Mao Zedong, on our left was also situated another symbolic building of China’s political power: the Great Hall of the People, where the National People’s Congress convenes and that is actually printed on the 100 RMB banknotes of China!
After some souvenir pictures in the square with the Forbidden City main gate in the background, we headed to the entrance of the Forbidden City. An historical moment was on the point to happen for us. After all the formalities for tickets we finally entered the site…Impressive… Speechless… Awesome… The Forbidden City was standing here, just in front of us, with all its great beauty and imperial history. The moment we were living was such an important one. I was so impressed and happy to have had the opportunity to coming to China to see this by myself. Everywhere, tourists from all over the world were visiting the many different aspects of the historic imperial city. Colors, buildings, staircases and cobbled squares were such a sight! The Forbidden City was even more beautiful in reality than in the many beautiful pictures I had seen before. A visit that I will never forget and that offers such a deep insight into the real beauty of the country.
Peking Opera and Beijing Roast Duck
The first diner in Beijing was for us another great highlight after such a day we had visiting one of the most famous attractions of Beijing. Indeed, our diner plan was an amazing surprise. At the menu: Beijing roast duck’s degustation and evening entertaining show of the worldly famous Beijing Opera! What a night we had! The Beijing chicken was a delight! Just near to our table, a cooker came to cut the duck, the scene was interesting and so special as it was for us the first time we saw it. The waitresses taught us how to eat the duck properly, a great moment eating one of China’s best cuisine!
The diner done, our bus took us onto the famous Beijing Opera where seeing the colorful blend of singing, dancing and mime that makes the fame of the artistic show throughout the world. Broadcasted in traditional Chinese language, the show was still understandable by the many singing and dancing styles. The night was a great highlight and for me a must-done attraction of a Beijing Tour!
Great Wall of China and Summer Palace
Our second day in Beijing was another exciting day: the visit of the Great Wall had arrived! I know that the Badaling Great Wall and Mutianyu Great Wall are very renowned sections of the Great Wall, but this time the section we would visit was the Juyongguan Great Wall. Located at more than 50 kilometers away from Beijing the car took around one hour to arrive to the section of the Great Wall we were on the point to visit: the Juyongguan section, the section where seeing the longest part of the Great Wall and mostly visited by Chinese tourists. This China must-see sight was a marvel for all of us, we were so excited at the idea of walking on the foot of former soldiers from the Qin Dynasty. Leaving early in the morning, we arrived by 10 a.m. at the site where lots of tour buses were already parked. We couldn’t believe our eyes: we were in front of the Great Wall of China, us, so small human beings in front of such a human masterpiece! The black-cobbled staircases and alleys were such a marvel. Of different size the way was a bit hard but so interesting to think that people used to stand there in ancient times. We could visit some of the Wall’s observation towers giving such an amazing sight to the surroundings. Walking on the Great Wall, we couldn’t believe where we were standing. One of my dream had just been fulfilled, I was happy like a kid in front of his birthday present, China is such a beauty!
Spending the all day there, we came back in the afternoon to Beijing city and made a quick stop to the Summer Palace where the sight, though totally different, was still impressive. Filled with numerous palace temples, gardens, pavilions and lakes, the Summer Palace was a relaxing time for us after such a walk we had on the Great Wall in the morning. Being one of the city’s most visited sites, the Summer Palace really deserves its reputation. Typical Chinese style buildings, beautiful lush vegetation, pristine lakes, the sight was like a postcard and the memories we kept such awesome ones!
Temple of Heaven and rickshaw escapade in the Hutongs
Our last day in Beijing had arrived and we still had so many things to do and to see. A 3-day stay is I think not that much for visiting everything in the city as Beijing flourishes with so many attractions and secrets, and I prefer to take my time enjoying the sightseeing. But this depends of course on your vacation days and the tour you plan to do in China. Anyways, having just this time to spend visiting the city before our flight back to France, we were happy to have a great insight into the Beijing way of life! This last day was dedicated to visiting the marvelous Temple of Heaven that everyone speaks about when referring to Beijing, this together with the Forbidden City and the Great Wall. The Temple is a Ming Dynasty designed that has become one of the most famous symbol of the Beijing. The buildings were so beautiful, all painted in blue color and representing the Imperial power. Standing on such a scenic spot, we could just but stay speechless in front of the beauty of this other human masterpiece of China. Inside the many temples of the park, decorations and colors were so rich and vivid. We took memorable pictures that I still have in mind today.
After a whole morning spent the Temple of Heaven site, our afternoon spent smoothly in having some walk for some of us and some rickshaw journeys in ancient Beijing many Hutongs. These little streets of typical ancient Beijing city are a great highlight that gives travelers a real impression of the cultural richness of Beijing. Beijing “Hutongs” (narrow alleyways) are old Beijing crisscrossing east to west alleyways linking to each other and creating a huge range of ramshackle dwellings and courtyards originating from the Qing Dynasty. If you ever have the chance to go to Beijing, this is what you must do. Hutongs give you a totally different vision of Beijing, far away from the modern center where flourishes shopping malls and other big financial centers. On our way back to the hotel at the end of the afternoon, we could have a glance from our bus to the 2008 Olympic Games Water Cube and Birds’ Nest that were still under construction when I visited Beijing in 2007. Eventhough it was not finished yet, we could feel ourselves in the middle of the dynamic country that is China, an impression that reached everyone at that time.
This last visit in China was for me one of the best I ever made as this was of course the capital city of the country. Heading to the airport for our flight back to our country, we could just but stay sad at the idea that we had spent 1 month in China and this was already time for leaving. To tell the truth this wasn’t without feeling a little twinge of sadness that I left the country at that time, promising to myself as we were taking off from the airport that I will come back sooner or later, what was indeed the case 1 year after for staying in China 1 year this time studying the language in the beautiful city that is Guilin! Anyways, this is my first China trip and it  made me open my eyes to the beautiful country that it is, the friendly people there and their philosophy of life and happiness. I have never met anyone yet who after their first trip to China doesn’t want to come back again. As if China had a kind of power of seduction to the travelers that dare to come to visit it. China has broadened my mind and will for sure broaden yours. Come to live the best travel experience of your life and like I am still actually doing, live your own China life!
--- By Sophie (Visit Our China)




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