Friday, February 20, 2015

Beijing: Day 1.

We didn't arrive in Beijing until about 5:30pm. When we met our guide at the airport, he let us know that he had double-checked our hotel's address and drove past it, only to discover it had been closed for renovations for months. We had trouble accessing our booking confirmations and emails because you can't use public wifi in China unless you have a Chinese phone number. Cue a couple of hours of distress and sitting in some pretty terrible Beijing peak hour traffic before everything got sorted and we got to our hotel (thankfully we booked with one that was part of a small chain of hotels), after which we promptly landed face-first into our beds.

Our first day in Beijing was spent visiting Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City. We knew it was going to be cold, but were we prepared for extraordinary wind chill and -5ÂșC temperatures that day? No, we were not. It was extremely hard to appreciate Tiananmen Square when there was nothing around us to block the wind, and some of us (myself included) thought we'd be fine without thermals, a beanie, gloves and every possible thing you might need for actual winter—and winter had only just begun in Beijing, with a little snow happening the week before we arrived.

Of all the places in the world I want to visit, China was never high on my list (our parents planned this trip). Now that I've been, I think I'd really like to go back and stay for longer than 4 days, spending a little more time at each site without having to rush.

One of my favourite things about China was not only their beautifully detailed architecture, but the incredible preservation and respect shown for their own culture and history. It is so easy to imagine the emperors and empresses walking around their palaces because all the historical sites have been so well taken care of, instead of simply being torn down to make way for yet another skyscraper. I wish I could explain the symbolism behind everything in my photos below, but everything is so detailed, intertwined and intricate I'd be here for hours (and well, the Internet will do a better job than I ever could).

We ended our day at the Chaoyang Theatre. We were completely enamoured by their performances, and if you ever visit Beijing I'd highly recommend you see it especially if you're not even sure you like acrobatics, gymnastics or the performing arts—pretty sure you'll change your mind.

These ancient trees in The Imperial Garden of the Forbidden City are hundreds of years old. 

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