Friday, September 24, 2010
Forbidden City and more
Yesterday was an epic day. We started out at the Forbidden City. The crowds were crazy once again. It took us 45 minuets to walk from the street entrance to the point where you pick up your ticket to actually enter the Forbidden City...partly because of the hordes of people but also because it is so massive. It was of course an amazing place. It reeks of history like so much of Beijing and China in general.
3 hours later we found ourselves exiting at the other end of the Forbidden City and wandering towards an area called "Shicha Hai" There is a seemingly infinite number of restaurants, bars and shops to check out. It is a definite must see if you find yourself in Beijing. Once here we decided to stop for a bite to eat. The menu was tempting us with offerings of snake, beef entrails, marinated baby turtle and braised moss (which is something we in canada might have overlooked given that you can walk into the forrest and gather bucket loads in no time) but noodles, dumplings rice and pork seemed a bite more our style.
After lunch I decided to leave Martin, Kay and Maya and head out on my own. I ended up meeting two locals who became my tour guides for the rest of the day. Linda and Nan. So, after checking out the rest of the shops in Shicha Hai, we went to Beihai Park. It cost 10 yuan (1.50 CAD) to see the shrines, temples, and lake within. We managed to catch the sunset from atop a temple within the park which was amazing!
Dinner time was calling so Linda, Nan and I hopped on a bus and headed to a popular shopping / restaurant area called Xidan Commercial Street. It reminded me of a smaller version of New York. The department stores and shops stretch on for ever and are lit up by the endless strings of neon lights and electronic billboards. Pretty cool! We ate at a restaurant buried inside one of these department stores. A good feed. After dinner we parted ways and I made my way back to the hotel. I decided to walk as on the map it looked like a few blocks and a reasonable distance but it turned out to be much further than I thought. It made me realize just how big Beijing really is.