Ni Hao! Welcome to Beijing!
Beijing, also known as Peking, is the capital of the People’s Republic of China. It is the metropolis of Northern China that is strictly governed by the National Government. It maybe China’s second largest City (Shanghai’s the largest) but it is the nation’s Political, Cultural and Educational Center. Beijing is also home to China’s largest state-owned-companies so it really is highly urbanized.
We flew from Ningbo to Beijing and arrived around nine in the morning. I was quite surprised when we landed because I couldn’t see anything well. The smog was really terrible because it rained earlier. And it took us more than 30 minutes to arrive at our designated arrival section whatever. Apparently, Beijing Capital International Airport is the second busiest airport in the world. So when during our flight back to Manila, we stayed inside the plane for more than 4 hours, I wasn’t that surprised anymore.
TIP: You may want to have atleast 4 hours apart when booking connecting flights when you have a stopover in Beijing.
Anyways, the picture above was taken outside of our hotel. We stayed at Days Inn Forbidden City Beijing and the place was really nice. Not to mention that the location was really great. It was walking distance away from Tiananmen Square and Wangfujing Street. Tiananmen Square is where Forbidden City is located while Wangfujing is the city’s shopping district.
Because we still had time to spare in the afternoon before a business meeting, we had a chance to roam around Forbidden City. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the place, Forbidden City was the Chinese Imperial Palace during the Ming Dynasty up to the last family rulers of China, the Qing Dynasty. For more than 500 years, it served as home for the Emperors, their Empress, concubines and the rest of their household. It also served as both the ceremonial and the political center of the Chinese Government.
I didn’t even realize that our trip in China was actually during the start of Summer. So imagine the influx of tourists at all must-see spots. They were everywhere! Most of them were from neighboring Asian countries, like us. Although I saw Europeans, Americans, Russians and Indians as well. I couldn’t blame them. China is one of the most visited countries in the world.
Bejing’s Forbidden City is probably one of the most haunted places on Earth. It was burned down, built and burned down again countless of times. Executions were also held at the place. I couldn’t help but get an eerie feeling as I strolled alone at the not-so-crowded places.
Forbidden City is the world’s biggest ancient place. No wonder it is China’s most popular single site tourist attraction. The place is also considered to be the world’s top 5 most important palace. This is why the Chinese Government takes good care of it. You can see palace guards EVERYWHERE.
On our second day in Beijing, we went to the Ming Tombs (photo of the entrance below). The Ming Tombs are a collection of the Emperor’s tombs during the Ming Dynasty. The first emperor’s tomb however was located in Nanjing. But the majority of the tombs are located in a cluster near Beijing and is famously called, the Thirteen Tombs of the Ming Dynasty.
The photo above is a picture of what they called, the gateway to Heaven. It kind of reminded me of that scene in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in which Harry and his friends duel some of the members of the Death Eaters in the Death Chamber. And then the members of the Order, including Sirius Black arrived just in time to save Harry and his friends. Sirius however was killed by Bellatrix and was taken by the Veil. It was the archway that is the barrier between the land of the living and land of the death.
The Ming Tombs’ gateway to heaven was like that. Once you pass it, you cannot go back. It is where the Emperor’s coffin is passed, signifying that he went to the other side and cannot come back.
Out of the thirteen tombs, only one was made accessible to public. The Dingling tomb of Emperor Wanli and his two Empress was the one that was excavated, preserved and is now open for tourists to see and experience. I wasn’t able to get a clear picture of how the tomb looked like. But it was really big. And it was nine floors below the ground.
The tomb itself consists of three rooms. The living room with three chairs, the dining room which was closed at that time due to safety issues and the bedroom where the coffins and some small boxes were found. The Chinese have this belief that even though you have passed, they make sure you have something to bring to the other side of the world. This is why there were treasures found inside those small boxes.
After visiting the Ming Dynasty tombs, we went to the Jade factory and had lunch there. I wasn’t really a fan of jewelries and picture taking wasn’t allowed inside so I wasn’t able to take photos. But it was okay, i was too excited to think about our next destination to actually care.
Yes, my dear readers, this is the Great Wall of China.
It is the wall that united the 7 kingdoms of China against the Mongolians, making way for the first ever Dynasty, the Qin Dynasty. Now I know where George RR Martin gets his inspiration! The story sounded like Jon Snow’s Wall, the Wildlings and the whole Targaryen thing and ruling of the 7 kingdoms of Westeros!
The Great Wall of China is one of the seven wonders of the world and is the only man made architecture that can be seen from outer space. Yes! That’s how great it really is! It is estimated to be around 20, 000 km in length but only 8, 000 km have been discovered and around 2, 000 km has already been destroyed due to natural calamity.
TIP: When planning to visit the Great Wall, don’t go to the Badaling part of the wall. That’s where tourists usually go because it’s nearest from the city. I recommend Mutianyu. Or better, Simatai. During our visit, Simatai was under renovation so I booked a tour to Mutianyu instead.
What’s Black and White and Asian? PANDAS! So for our third day, I asked the tour guide to bring us to Beijing’s Great Panda Zoo.
I was expecting to hug or feed a Panda on my visit. But I was greeted with sleeping and eating Pandas instead. Bummer.
Part of me was actually heartbroken seeing them inside a cage. I then remembered why I’m not really a fan of the zoo. I don’t like seeing animals inside cages, looking lonely and miserable.
I learned, however, that Pandas are very much like cats. They spend most of their time sleeping and eating.
After our quite sad visit of the Pandas, I asked our tour guide to drive by Beijing’s Olympic Egg just so we could take pictures.
Beijing really outdid themselves with their preparations for the 2008 Olympics. They built a stadium that looked like a nest and a cube. The whole place was surrounded with 5 star hotels and convention centers. There were even shopping centers full of luxury brands too.
On our last day, we visited the Lama temple and Confucian temple. I wasn’t able to take pictures in the Lama temple because I see people praying and taking photos inside the temples wasn’t allowed. So I did alot of picture taking when we strolled around the Confucian temple.
Remember the golden rule? Was it ‘Do not do unto others what you would not want them to do unto you’?
“What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others” – Confucius
This is where you go when you want to learn about the Confucian way. According to our guide, the place is usually packed during exam time. Students would go and pay tribute to Confucius and ask his guidance in taking their exams.
Dress: Ziya| Sandals: Zara
Yes, that’s my parents. We rode on a rickshaw around Hutong. We actually had the chance to explore what it’s like to live in one of Beijing’s first ‘subdivision’. According to our guide, this is where workers and other members of the Royal Palace resided.
You can actually tell the level in the society of the resident by looking at their door. The more ‘star’ (the one at the top of the door with a chinese symbol) you have, the more important you are in society. Two stars like the ones below usually means you are part of the Imperial guards with a higher rank.
We also had a chance to roam around Nanluoguxiang. This hutong is actually a famous tourist spot in Beijing. It kind of reminded me of Manila’s Binondo. There are so many stores that sells cheap stuff. There are also restaurants near the lake where you can see foreigners eating and drinking with locals. The place was really alive. Especially at night.
I wasn’t able to take pictures while strolling Wangfujing street. The place was actually surrounded with malls and branded stores. I even saw a Bench store inside Beijing Mall! Anyways, it was already getting dark and I am really lazy in taking my DSLR with me whenever I go shopping. Teehee.
So that’s it! My China experience is definitely one of my most treasured memories. China is amazingly good at preserving their culture regardless of how urbanized their country already is. And I really appreciate and love that about them!
I may be ending my travel diary here but I’m definitely going back there again!
–the girl who’s lost in Desire’s lair–