We arrived in Beijing at exactly 7:12 AM on the overnight train from Shanghai and after making our way by subway to Qianmen we finally got our first glimpse of the infamous Tiananmen Square. But at about 7:40 in the morning on a rainy day with backpack in tow, we really didn't give two hoots about the bloody square, all we wanted to do was drop our stuff and get a shower and maybe a nap (Long distance Chinese trains have a habit of waking people at about 5:30 AM with some terrible Kenny G clarinet music or other terrible music).
Later that afternoon we headed back to the Square to see what all the fuss was about. Truth be told, it was an awesome sight. Tiananmen Square was enormous and surrounded by 6 lanes heading south on the west of the square, 3 in both directions south of the square, 6 heading north on the east of the square and north of the square was 6 in both directions. So getting to the square sounds pretty hard, but subways under the road alloy you access, but these shut at 8pm and no one is allowed through, except for the guards patrolling.
Right in the centre is a giant building housing Mao Zedong's pickled body, his very own Mao-soleum (only open between 9.30 and 12 and 2 to 4). But the line is always huge and you can't take bags, bottled water, cameras or other "dangerous items" in the building.
At the very northern end is the Forbidden City, a monster "city" surrounded by moats and giant walls on all sides. It was used by Ming and Qing dynasty emperors to live in and no one was allowed to enter for 500 years, plenty of old buildings and halls to see and visit.
On the Thursday we headed out to the great wall to see if it really was that great. It was really great, we went to the long distance bus station in Beijing in search of the bus to the wall called Simatai. As we walked to the station a group of touts began to follow us with offers to take us to the wall. One managed to get through and Mr. Pei took us to the great wall at Simatai for 100 yuan each.
The drive took about 2.5 hours through some rough terrain, the roads were good but Mr. Pei's car was a shitbox with a maximum speed of 140km/hr although we probably only managed to get up to about 80.
The wall was great, see below for some good pictures!
This is Michael in the Forbidden City
Liam in front of the Great Hall of the People, next to Tiananmen Square
The three of us on top of the Great Wall!
Liam and Michael sitting on the wall
Me standing on top of a part of the wall
The great wall snaking away into the distance
See you later... In Helsinki