Beijing - Part 1
Trip Start Jul 12, 2003
39Trip End Ongoing
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It was great to discover a subway station right near our hostel - it's made getting around Beijing so quick and easy (so we've managed to do so much already!). We joined the hordes of tourists visiting the Forbidden City, a huge complex of ancient buildings where two dynasties of emporers lived. As great an experience it was to be in such a historical, famous place, the hordes of tour groups did diminish the fun factor just a little
We visited another dead communist leader (after Ho Chi Minh) - Mao's body in the huge Mausoleum in Tiananmen Square. It was similar to Ho Chi Minh's in that it looked like a wax dummy, had a red light shining on his face, and you were ushered past really quickly by strict guards. Yet another of the million and one things to do and see here is the Lama Temple - although we were feeling templed-out (as the Lonely Planet saying goes), we thought we'd visit 'just one more' as it was a Tibetan Buddhist temple, a kind I hadn't seen before (Steve had). It was so colourful and beautiful, with prayer wheels, golden buddha statues, ornate colourful ceilings and even a 55 foot high buddha carved from one huge piece of sandalwood. There was so much incense being burnt there you could smell it in the nearest subway station!
We visited the Silk Market which was jam-packed with fake designer bags and clothes, but found it was a bit of a rip-off and aimed more at westerners than Chinese. I've found much better bargains at the 10 yuan shops (do I really need more handbags? Ummm...yes!) so we didn't stick around. One evening we sought refuge in a really authentic looking British pub, the John Bull Pub - a little English oasis in a big Chinese world for 2 pub-food starved Aussies! It was great - however we sheepishly calculated that for the price of 1 pint of beer there, we could have bought 12 longnecks of Chinese beer at our hostel!!