Beijing (北京), with a history of
more than 3000 years and being the capital of China for about 850 years, has
served as the political and cultural center of China for centuries, and has been
an integral part of China's history. The history we studied before is so alive
in front of us right here in Beijing. Economic reform and 2008 Olympic
Games have changed and transformed the city to a new modern Beijing as well.
Getting there ...
We had an early flight from Taiwan to Beijing. It is
now much more convenient with the new non-stop flight from Taiwan to China. When we stepped out of Beijing's new airport at about noon, we
immediately felt the heat of summer in Beijing: temperatures higher than
forty degrees Celsius was waiting for us for the next few days.
[Day 1/2] [Day 3/4]
The First Day ...
- Silk Street (秀水街)
After lunch, we
headed to the Silk Street Market to avoid the extremely hot day outdoors.
It is a famous market to find all sort of "knock-off" luxury brand-name
merchandise with negotiable prices. We bought a few T-shirts,
necklaces, and a Wii game (but it turned out the game disk did not work on
our Wii ....)
- Legend of Kung Fu, Red Theater (功夫傳奇,
This was another indoor activity at the Red Theater.
show was all Kung Fu, dance and acrobatics.
The fusion of modern dance
with Chinese traditional arts is what makes
this performance unique and
spectacular. It is one of the most popular
show on Beijing and it was the 3502nd show performed since premiere in 2004.
Since we had four people (3 "adults" + 1 "baby"), we
got two connected rooms every night during our stay. We usually all
crammed into one room to sleep and reserved the other room for me to watch
the FIFA World Cup during early hours (around 3AM). The spare room was
also served as my studio in the morning.
The Second Day ...
- Dawn at Forbidden City
We stayed at the Wangfujing
Peninsula Hotel which is within the
walking distance to the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. I woke up
early (partly because of jetlag) and decided to walk out at 4:40AM. It
was turning dawn when I reached the Donghua Gate, and the tower of palace
was bathing in the golden light and showing a mirror-like reflection in the
moat (aka 護城河). I walked around the wall
to Tiananmen Square, the largest city square in
occupying an area
of 440,000 square meters (about 109 acres), and able to accommodate 10,000,000
people at a time. I was amazed by the spaciousness
and emptiness of this place at this hour of the day (I could not imagine it
could be so crowded like this a
few days later).
- Great Wall of China (居庸關長城)
The Great Wall is probably one of the most famous
construction in human history. A
Chinese saying goes that He who
has never been to the Great Wall is not a true man. If we laid the bricks
and rocks used in the Great Wall of Ming to form a wall one meter (1.1 yard)
wide and five meters (16.4 feet) high, it could circle the earth at the
We left our hotel early to try to avoid the extreme heat of the mid-day, but
the traffic in Beijing city in the morning was not a pleasant experience. We arrived at Juyongguan (居庸關)
at about 9:30AM and it was already about 40deg C! It was fairly crowded
in this section of the Great Wall, but most people only walked one span of the
wall. After the first fortress tower, we had much more room to
ourselves. Climbing the Great Wall is basically walking stairs, which is
not our favorite type of hiking especially walking downstairs (and the
handrail was grilling under the 43deg C sun).
- Kwan-Yi in (Bodhisattva) Holy Water Show (聖水觀音)
After lunch at the Great Wall (長城腳下的公社),
we arranged to have another indoor activity to see the Kwan-Yi in (Bodhisattva)
Holy Water Show.
- National Stadium (國家體育場
Beijing National Stadium, or colloquially as the
Bird's Nest, was designed for use throughout the 2008 Summer Olympics and
Occupying an area of 21 hectares, it has a floor space of 258,000 square
meters. Its seating capacity amounts to 91,000, including 11,000 temporary
seats. The main body of the National Stadium is a
colossal saddle-shaped elliptic steel structure weighing 42,000 tons. It is
333 meters long from north to south, 294 meters wide from east to west, and
69 meters tall.
It was still very hot when we got there (there were many
vendors who were selling $1-RMB popsicles while eating popsicles themselves)
and only walked around the stadium for
a while before Iris was even refused to walk to the Water Cube across the
[Day 1/2] [Day 3/4]
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