ay 192… The capital of the most populous country on earth, Beijing is quickly shedding its historical face in favour of modernity. However, there are still plenty of places to go and first stop is an early riser to go see the beautiful Temple of Heaven. Not only in the wee hours is it cool… but most of the day the common free areas are home to a plethora of oldies doing all kinds of exercise (not just tai chi), sports, playing music, dancing, playing games like dominoes and mahjong, fan dancing, diablo, kite flying, water calligraphy or painting. Which is phenomenal. If you are reasonably healthy, you don’t have to hole up in a retirement villages (be they concrete or mobile home) … get out and keep active. I love it and will be looking to take up some badminton or hackeysack down the road.
Next we explore Tiananmen Square – apparently the largest downtown square in the world. Framed by the Gate of Heavenly Peace with its Chairman Mao portrait (complete with cut out pupils and cameras within… not joking… you should SEE the ridiculous active nd mountain to of CCTV cameras everywhere here!), Mao’s Mausoleum, the Great Hall of the People and the National Museum it’s a place of pilgrimage for Chinese tourists who consider it the heart of their nation. After some selfies with the flag and a giant flower vase, its time to enter the imposing Forbidden City, former home to China’s imperial rulers and filled with palaces, gardens and a maze of seemingly never-ending grand courtyards. There’s reported to be 9,999 and a half rooms here… can’t have 10,000 as that’s the mansion of the gods. However historians actually nu,berths the rooms at just over 8,400… so still an absolute butt load! Also all grand doorways have 81 knows on each door. “Why” i hear you ask? Well I’m glad you asked. The Chinese word for nine sounds similar when spoken to the word for infinity. So the ye olde emperors were granted an infinite amount of luck, prosperity and probably fung shui too.
Then we grab all late lunchette to tide us over to dinner which is an amazing place with traditional peking duck as well as absolutely scrumptious paper thin fried mild chilli tofu. Omnomnom! Finally for our farewell evening its off to the night markets to see the LIVE SCORPIONS ON A STICK to eat and … no… I did not eat any. My few rules for food is it must NOT still be alive when eaten. Gross and barbaric. But we did find a place to dress up in old traditional Chinese clothing, so I got to be emperor and the girls my concubines, which was hilarious. As we donned gear is think 6 girls got photos with me, a dozen got photos of us all and a few jumped in to the group shot as well. Paparazzi