Beijing Places of Interest

Tiananmen Square

The world’s largest public square, Tiananmen Square, is home to the National Museum of China, Monument of the People’s Heroes, and the Great Hall of the People. As we walk towards the center of Beijing, we pass Zhengyangmen Gate south of the square. The colorful building is very noticeable among the surrounding tan and gray skyscrapers.

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Monument of the People’s Heroes (left) and Zhengyangmen Gate (right), Beijing

As we continue north, the Tiananmen Square garden comes into view. Perfectly trimmed pink, red, and green hedges pepper the grass near waves of purple, pink, and red flowers. Across the square, is the Monument of the People’s Heroes. This light gray memorial constructed of marble and granite towers ten stories high.

 

Great Hall of the People

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Great Hall of the People, Beijing

Also on the far side of the square, a line of red flags lead visitors to the Great Hall of the People. Thousands of people visit the square each day.

Gate of Heavenly Peace

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Gate of Heavenly Peace (Entrance to the Forbidden City), Beijing
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Gate of Heavenly Peace (Entrance to the Forbidden City), Beijing

To our right, a large portrait of Mao Zedong is proudly displayed on the Tiananmen Tower, also known as the Gate of Heavenly Peace. In front, one male and one female lion stand guard before the seven bridges crossing the Golden River.

The Forbidden City

The Forbidden City is a maze of halls and gates creating an outer and inner court. There are three main buildings in the outer court: Hall of Supreme Harmony, Hall of Central Harmony, and Hall of Preserved Harmony. The Gate of Heavenly Purity separates the outer court from the royal family’s home, the inner court.

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Each gate is entered through heavy, red doors with golden accents. The roofs of the red wooden buildings are decorated with intricate accents in bright blues, greens, reds and yellows. Statues of dragon turtles, cranes, and other animals decorate the entrance of the halls.

Imperial Garden

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Located in the inner court is the Imperial Garden, an area for the royal family to relax. The tranquil garden features beautiful rock formations and trees over one hundred years old. At each corner of the garden is a red pavilion, representing one of the four seasons.

The Drum and Bell Tower

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Bell Tower (left) and Drum Tower (right), Beijing

Walking along Houhai Lake, we reach the Drum and Bell Tower. In the Han Dynasty, the towers communicated the time to the city with morning bells and evening drums. The Drum tower is ornate, painted red with gold accents. Directly across the square is the slightly taller Bell Tower made from brick and stone.

Houhai Lake

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Houhai Lake, Beijing
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Houhai Lake, Beijing

There are Small restaurants and shops along Houhai Lake. Wind chimes and lanterns gently sway in the light breeze.

Rickshaws

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Our rickshaw escort to lunch (left) and Houhai Lake (right), Beijing

Rickshaws are not impervious to traffic jams, although are much more efficient than a taxi. Our nine rickshaws encounter several traffic jams of bicycles, motor bikes, and small trucks making deliveries on the narrow streets.

Beijing’s Cricket Master

Mr. Liu’s lives in a traditional home in Beijing. Through the doorway, is an open air garden with a web of clotheslines drying laundry above us. To our right, a small roof provides some shelter above the open air kitchen. Walking by turtles, birds, parrots, and cats we are lead to the enclosed portion of his home. The small space is crowded with trinkets and fish tanks. Only a bedroom, living room, and dining area have protection from the elements.

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Beijing’s Cricket Fighting Champion, Mr. Liu (left) and his Prized Cricket, Tyson (right), Beijing

Beijing’s Cricket Fighting Champion, Mr. Liu, has been featured in many magazines, including a 2011 issue of the NY Times. Mr. Liu knows only cricket, hello, and yes in English, but he compensates well with his theatrical gestures.

The first step to choosing a good fighting cricket involves, a pusher, a toothpick sized piece of wood with a fluffy hairs on end. A cricket that bares it’s teeth when nudged with the pusher is a good fighter. Winning crickets live out their life in royalty, eating and drinking only the best from porcelain dishes. When Mr. Liu is feeling generous, he provides the honeymoon suite and a lady cricket to visit the champion.

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A retired wooden fighting stage (left), Beijing

He shows us a retired red, wooden fighting stage. A cricket is placed in each end of the stage. When the fighters are ready, tiny doors are slid open, and each cricket is gently nudged into the stage with the pusher. Present day, the stages are clear so there are no obstructed views from the onlookers.

Cricket tournaments are very popular in Beijing. At times, possessions such as cars and homes are wagered. When a champion crickets passes away, it’s placed in a small wooden coffin. Losing crickets are smashed under his shoe. We are honored to take a glimpse as Mr. Liu carries around his current reigning champion, Tyson, named after the famous US boxer.

Red Theatre

As we walk along the empty street, the lights of the Red Theatre glow against the dark sky. Most of the actors in Legend of Kung Fu are very young and their skills are extremely impressive. English subtitles scroll above the stage as we watch six scenes telling the story of a young boy evolving into a Kung Fu master.

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Kung Fu Show at the Red Theatre, Beijing
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Kung Fu Show at the Red Theatre, Beijing

Chongwenmen Street

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View from our hotel, the Chongwenmen Hotel, Beijing

Outside the hotel, modern, plain, gray and tan sky scrapers tower around us as we walk past shopping malls, office buildings, and perfectly manicured hedges.

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Our favorite steamed bun restaurant (left) Beijing, China
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Chongwenmen Street, Beijing

*For more information on our tour check out: G Adventures China Express.

  1. Day 1: Fly into Beijing
  2. Day 2: Beijing: Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square
  3. Day 3: Great Wall Mutianyu and travel to Xi’an
  4. Day 4: Xian: Terracotta Warriors Guided Tour and travel to Suzhou
  5. Day 5: Suzhou: Master of the Nets Garden Tour and overnight train to Shanghai
  6. Day 6: Shanghai: Orientation Walk of the Bund
  7. Day 7: Shanghai: Carte Blanche
  8. Day 8: Fly out of Shanghai

September 2017

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Author: The Traveling Gingerbread

My fiancé, Mitch, and I have been traveling together over four years. Living and working full time in Pittsburgh, PA, we travel as much as our vacation days and finances allow. Each adventure is packed with activities, tours, and experiences to maximize our time. As craft beer lovers, we always try to fit in a visit to a local brewery. 
In Tokyo, we laughed every time we saw someone talking on their large, animated phone case. We had to buy one. Having an obsolete IPhone 5, the selection was limited. We purchased Gingy off a neglected rack in Shinjuku, Tokyo and The Traveling Gingerbread was born. You can purchase your own adorable gingerbread friend here! 
The Traveling Gingerbread is an entertaining account of our travels, fun facts, and tips we learned along the way.


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