Beijinger Style

Beijing’s summer palace was once a playground for the imperial court. Filled with pavilions, gardens, lakes, bridges and temples, it provided some nice views of Beijing. I couldn’t help but purchase a pointless item from one of the hawkers for one yuan…

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Beijing hosted the Olympic games back in 2008, one of the main reasons why the city has become the modern wonder it is today. From the outside  the Olympic park looks like it has somewhat been left to rot, it was hard to imagine the spectacle that had taken place here four years ago. And by spectacle, I mean Boris Johnson waving the Union Jack around on the stage inside the bird’s nest like a dooly. It made me think how long this place could keep attracting the tourists in their droves, and whether the London Olympic park will suffer the same fate. Nevertheless, this marvel of architecture was great to see.

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The leftover ‘friendlies of fuwa’ toys, a sad image of what the park has become

Jingshan park was made from the earth extracted from the moat around the forbidden city. It offers a good panoramic of the city itself for those too tight (or frugal) to go inside. The forbidden city is the very heart of ancient Beijing and so called because it was off limits for 500 years. Back then the price for uninvited admission was execution, now it’s about four quid and a couple of quid for each other building inside…

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The Forbidden city from Jingshan park

He who has not climbed the Great Wall is not a true man – Mao Zedong

The Great Wall of China for me, was a must-see sight, we opted to take the three hour drive to the Jinshanling section of the wall to avoid the hoards of tourists.
Fact one on the wall – it is not actually one continuous wall, but sections of wall built during different Chinese dynasties.
Fact two – it cannot be seen from from outer space, this was confirmed in 2003 when China’s first astronaut Yang Liwei failed to spot it on his mission. The 10km round trip along the wall was both tiring and rewarding, taking us through fourteen different towers and provided some fantastic views. The only down side was the few hawkers pestering us to buy cheap souvenirs, I didn’t let it bother be too much though, all in all they’re just a few pricks on the wall…

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What other way could we finish our visit to Beijing, than with some beverages around the main drinking scene, Sanlitun’s bar street. The main drag is more like an area in Bangkok, where I got the feeling that most of the girls inside, were actually ‘workers’. Around the side streets and back alleys though, there are some cool hole in the wall watering holes with cheap beer. I particularly liked the St. Andrews golf shop street bar. Mingling with expats, locals and travellers alike, we finished the night off with some delicious street skewers. Over the last few months of travelling, I have been largely shielded by what is going on at home, but tonight I was fully exposed to the worldwide phenomenon that is…..Gangnam style. And quite frankly, I’m repulsed…

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