Beijing, China

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Sunset in Beijing observed from Korean Air flight 853

The Regent Hotel in Beijing. This hotel was recommended to us by a member of the WBBM radio/TV mobile unit (Chicago, IL).

On our way from the hotel to Forbidden City, also known as the Palace Museum. Tea plays an important role in the culture of China.

There are Subway delicatessens in Beijing. 
A traveler at a moat that surrounds Forbidden City

Near the entrance for the purchase of tickets for Forbidden City. The price was equivalent to $10 for adults. We estimated that 20 people enter per minute. We'll have to calculate how many that represents per day in the busy season of summer and compare it with the "official" estimates. 99.99 % of the visitors were Chinese on this particular day.

A portrait of Chairman Mao in Tiananmen Square near the entrance of Forbidden City. This section of Beijing was off limits for ordinary people (non-royalty) for 500 years, hence the name Forbidden City.

A traveler near the entrance gate of Forbidden City, or the Palace Museum. This complex  is a monument for the 24 emperors that ruled from its halls over a period of nearly 500 years - from the 1400's to the 1900's.The Palace Museum consists of 76 hectacres, which is rather large. 

A traveler near the entrance to Forbidden City and the Gate of Divine Might

Behind the traveler is the Gate of Supreme Harmony

A traveler in Forbidden City

A view of the Hall of Supreme Harmony. This is the largest and most important structure in Forbidden City. Originally built in the 15th century, it was used for ceremonial occasions such as coronations.

The Hall of Central Harmony (foreground) and the Hall of Preserving Harmony

The throne in the Hall of Preserving Harmony

The Chinese in Beijing begin to learn English in school at age four. This girl told us that she was six years old. She spoke to us with a very American accent. Her parents, who were with her and who appeared to be in their late 20's, could not speak English and did not appear to understand anything that their daughter was telling us.

A traveler near the Gate of Heavenly Purity
A traveler working on this photo-journal Shopping at Oriental Plaza Beijing
Eating in the food court of the Oriental Plaza At the entrance of the Temple of Heaven, or the Temple of Good Harvests

The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests. Many believe that this is Beijing's most attractive building. This version dates from 1889 and lacks a single nail.

20 oz of this premium Chinese beer costs the equivalent of $0.95, which is competitive with the price of beer sold on thirsty Thursday's at the Asheville Tourists games. We were happy to have domestic (Chinese) beer with our meals. The cost of imported wine and liquor was three-four times as expensive as the cost of imported wine and liquor is in the US. Imported US liquor also costs three-four times as much as is does in the US. These statements hold for Shanghai, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, and Australia. Surprisingly, Australian wines cost less in the US than in Australia.  

The ceiling of the Hall for Prayer for Good Harvests. The wood for the two main columns shown above were imported from Oregon because China lacked trees that were tall enough.

An unidentified building east of the Hall for Prayer for Good Harvests

An unidentified building west of the Hall for Prayer for Good Harvests

An unidentified building southwest of the Hall for Prayer
A traveler in the "long corridor" (150 yards) within the complex

All of the above people in the long corridor are playing cards or watching others play.

 

Eating Peking duck in Peking, Peking duck in Beijing, or Beijing duck in Beijing

We found the Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant next to the Peking Union Medical College Hospital Lecture Hall, both of which are close to the Regent Hotel.

At ease in the restaurant

To eat Beijing duck, one requires pancakes, which the female server on the right is bringing. One also needs a server who can carve the duck tableside, as shown above.

To assemble the dish, first place a pancake on the plate. Next dip the duck in sauce, place on the pancake, and add onion.
Fold the pancake containing the duck, sauce, and onion in half. Fold the half into thirds using chop sticks, and a spoon if necessary.
And now it's time to finish the assembled dish. All of the travelers enjoyed the meal

At Beijing Olympic Park. Behind the visitor on the left is the "Blue Cube" which housed the swimming events and on the right is the "Birds Nest" or Olympic Stadium that can hold 90,000 people.

Just inside of the entrance of the Mutianyu Great Wall. The Great Wall appears in the distant background.

At the Great Wall of China A view from the cable car on our way up to the Great Wall
Just off of the cable car

The travelers climbing the Great Wall. Fortunately the temperature was not excessive, but the views were not expansive owing to the clouds and haze.

After the descent on the cable car

Learning more about the culture of Chinese Tea at an establishment called Dr. Tea. We purchased an unusual thermometer to gauge the heat of water, and we also purchased some Puer tea.

A traveler in front of St. Mary's Cathedral. Anecdotal evidence indicates that (only) 30-40% of Chinese are religious. About 20% of Chinese are Buddhists; Buddhism was introduced into China in the first century (AD). About 3-4% of Chinese are Christians.   

A traveler in front of a statue at St. Mary's Cathedral, one of four Catholic Churches in Beijing (a city of 11 million people).

Near the entrance of the Lama Temple. This is the most famous Buddhist Temple outside of Tibet. At one time there were 1500 monks here. Now there are about 70. 

A traveler in front of the Hall of Heavenly Kings at the Lama Temple
A Buddha inside the Hall of Heavenly Kings A traveler near a statue in the Lama Temple

This 80 ft. stature resides inside of the Hall of Ten Thousand Happinesses. It is carved from a single piece of sandalwood. 

A traveler in front of a prayer wheel. Spinning this prayer wheel sends a prayer to heaven. The wheel is to been spun clockwise. 

A traveler in Di Tan Park. This park is adjacent to the Lama Temple. 

Trying to navigate the subway route back to the hotel

Unlike New York City and Bangkok, subway travelers in Shanghai and Beijing must have large bags and backpacks X-rayed by security. Fortunately the process is rapid. I'm worried that when Mayor Bloomberg in New York learns this, such a system will be instituted there. One advantage of security of airports outside of the US, one doesn't have to remove one's shoes. 

The subways in Beijing are modern, quiet, and inexpensive ($0.33/ride); however, they are crowded even when it isn't rush hour as shown here.

Chairman Mao proclaimed the founding of the People's Republic of China on 1 October 1949 from this massive Ming Dynasty gate where his portrait now hangs. This is Tiananmen Gate. 

Tiananmen Square is a large city square in the center of Beijing, China, named after the Tiananmen Gate located to its North, separating it from the Forbidden City. Tiananmen Square is the third largest city square in the world.

This is a quiet Saturday morning near the square. This is where some 500,000 people heard Mao's proclamation founding the People's Republic. There are not 500,000 people here on this day, but it's rather crowded.

A traveler in Zhong Shan Park. This quiet park is adjacent to the bustling and over-crowded Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City.

Another traveler in Zhong Shan Park

After a busy morning of touring, it's time for lunch. After spending more that a 11 days in Shanghai and Bejing, we did not have a single meal that resembled "Chinese cuisine" as offered in the US. Although shrimp, chicken, duck, beef, pork, and mushrooms per se taste the same, their manner of preparation is completely different, except for plain rice. Moreover, we never saw a single spring roll nor a single bowl of Won Ton soup. 

Waiting for KLM flights 898 and 1607 to Amsterdam and then to Rome

View from KLM flight 1607 on the approach to Rome's Leonardo da Vinci Airport

The automobile, bicycle, and motor scooter drivers in Shanghai are more aggressive than in Beijing. However, the taxi drivers in Beijing feel that they have the right of way over pedestrians, and pedestrians always yield to the taxis. The street signs and subway stops in Shanghai are written in Chinese and in English. In contrast, only a few street signs in Beijing are in English, so it's much more difficult to navigate in Beijing. 

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Created 3 July 2012; updated 9 July 2012

Robert Roskoski Jr. Laura Roskoski