Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Few Beijing Sites

Oh we're tired. Legs are sore. We were unprepared for all those steps yesterday.

Today, we walked around Beijing very slowly. More of a meandering. It was a relaxed day for sure. We ended up seeing three things: the southeast watchtower, Tienanmen Square, and the Donghuamen Market.

The Watchtower


This was part of the inner wall that protected the city. The Great Wall protected the country, and then there was an outer wall and an inner wall around the region and city of Beijing (and then a moat and a few more walls around the palace).

The watchtower is three stories high, and now it houses an art exhibit called the Red Gate Gallery. It was interesting, but the best part about it was that it was empty. I mean no tourists, no workers, not even a sleeping guard by the entrance. Nothing.


We walked around for a bit, then left and walked the kilometer length of the wall, which took a surprisingly long time given our pace.

Tiananmen Square

We took the metro over to Tiananmen Square, which has a long history that you can and should google if you've never heard of it. We got out of the wrong exit and we ended up at a little shopping area with train tracks and a cool gate.


It turned out that the building under the gate is actually another gate that leads to Tiananmen Square. But you can't go through it because the Square is heavily guarded and closed off and you can only enter at certain spots. Entrances are controlled by armed security guards, metal detectors, and X-ray scanners, along with fences and gates for crowd control. It's kinda crazy. Definitely not like Washington Square Park or Union Square in New York that are accessible from any point. Once inside, there are cameras watching everything. So don't even think of doing anything illegal here.


The square is ginormous, and the two main draws are the people's monument (in the picture below)...


...and a giant building that houses the preserved body of Mao Tse Dong. It's only open for a few hours in the morning, and you have to get in line around 6am to see him, and you can't bring a bag or a camera or anything, so we didn't do it.

The sun was setting by the time we reached the north side of the square, so we joined the crowd to watch the flag ceremony. It was cool and worth seeing.





Immediately following the ceremony, once the guards cross the street back to the palace, they usher/force everyone out of the Square. People on megaphones riding pickup trucks rounded up the crowd like cattle and pushed us toward the closest exit. When they say the Square closes at dusk, they mean it.

Donghuamen Market

Our last stop today was the Donghuamen Market. This market is famous for its random foods on sticks.



It was fun to wander around there. Although we did not eat any scorpions or spiders, we did find some sweet rice in a half pineapple and it was delicious.

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