Wednesday, 17 June 2009

The sights of Beijing, 23 -26 June

Beijing is a really cool city with lots to see and do. By no stretch of the imagination did I get around all the sights, but out of the things I did manage to see here are my rankings:

1. Summer Palace
Beautiful parklands with beautiful chinese palaces. You can get a bit sick of CHinese Palaces (see Forbidden City) but the palaces here are all different in style so your eyes are alwatyys seeing something new. The pretty park and lake also break up the pagodas, palaces and temples quite nicely.

2. Olympic Stadium
I loved the Olympics last summer, so seeing it all in the flesh was a little bit spine tingling. I bumped into a random Brit on the sumway on the way ther and we ended up exploring Beijing together that day (Emma was in bed with a hangover-still drunk). We both marvelled at the Bird´s Nest and the Pool complex and laughed at the thought of the equivalent in London in 2012,

3. Lama Temple
Home to ´The World´s Largest Statue of the Matreiya carved from as single cedar tree´ (as certified by GUinness Book of records). When you see the plaque announcing the above blurb you do have to roll your eyes a bit and think ´oh yeah... whatever!´ but this is simply spectacular. The tree must have been massive, absolutely massive and the stature is beautiful. The rst of the temple is full of other cool statues of Buddhas and Matreiyas.

4. Mao
So, that is Lenin, Ho Chi Minh and Mao all ticked off my list of dead communist leaders that I have seen. He looks somewhat Halloween Pumpkin'like (too much orange filter on his lighting). One thing really annoyed me here, yuo could pay the equivalent of a pound to place a plastic flower by his picture inside the mausoleum. Every other person mus have paid to lay a flower, a little bit ridiculous really, given that they probably use the same flowers every day. What a scam! Does anyone know where I need to go to find Stalin?

5. Tiennemen Square
A site of great historical significance. We watched the lowering of the flag in the evening and it was rammed. Not much more to say about it.

6. Pearl Market
Great if you have lots of money to spend on expensive pearl rings. rubbish if you go hoping to find a cheapy pearl ring. Other than pearls the market has lots of watches, electronic gadgets, silk kimonos and general touristy crap. You can´t walk half a step without someone screaming in you ear ´Watchy, watchy, watchy´. Unless you have lots of money to spend on fabulous rings, this place is hell.

7. Forbidden City
The first few courtyards of the Forbidden CIty are nice. Very chinesey, very palatial, beautiful courtyards. By the time you reach the fourth courtyard it is so incredibly boring! Seriously dull. Althought the very last courtyard has some funky trees and a cool rockery.

Beijing is a cool place to just wander around. There is no point doing everything but some things can definitely be given the slip.

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