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Half Day Forbidden City Tour - Great Feeling

It was easy to see why the airport in Beijing was rated one of the top in the world. It was enormous and beautiful, and customs was a breeze. While arriving at the airport, I saw our driver holding a big sign with my name. And on the way to our hotel, the driver act as our tour guide and told us a lot of the famous attractions in Beijing. Our hotel was ultra modern and trendy. We could have gone with a traditional Chinese hotel in a hutong, but figured we would have enough of traditional when winging accommodation during the rest of our trip.

Red Wall, Golden Glazed Tile

Since the first time to Beijing, first we choose a half day tour to Forbidden City, the symbol attraction in Beijing. But it is so large that after the half day walking, I felt my legs very tired. There are many gates you have to go through before you get to the actual entrance to the Palace are beautiful and the walls are flipping massive and very red. You're outside all the time for this particular attraction so we did 3 hours of looking around but regretably didn't climb the man made hill at the rear of the palace which had a temple and a view of the entire 'city'. I know it sounds weird but I really liked the steps leading up to the buildings, often there were two or three tiers and some had stone carved slabs of rock going the whole height of them and were covered with intricate carvings. The drain holes coming out from the steps were tens of enormous stone dragon heads and I could imagine if it rained there would be so many jets of water shooting out from their mouths. Although we just have a half day brief view, we are deeply moved by its large scale and the strong atmosphere of imperial power in ancient times.

On the way back, the tour guide told us that the bars along Houhai are very unique. That's wonderful. And at night we went there to experience the nightlife of Beijing. Different from my opinion, the bars here are not noisy instead they are quiet with the beautiful night scenery of Houhai. And we enjoy a comfortable nigh here.

Temple of Heaven - Grand Building

Since arrived in Beijing in the early morning, after a short rest in our hotel, we began our half day tour to the famous historical site in Beijing – the Temple of Heaven.

After lunch we went to the magnificent and colorful Temple of Heaven which is where emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties would make offerings to heaven and pray for good harvests. Here was our first real look at one of these garden and building and showed us how good these guys were at building along compass lines. It was kind of overcast but still pretty cool and exciting. We walked around the whole park which had some awesome trails through rows of trees. When worshipping Heaven there were many different phases throughout the ritual with ceremonial sacrifices.

Temple of Heaven

The Temple of Heaven was originally built long times ago. Much of it has been reconstructed since the 1800's due to fire or some other type of damage. It was crowded. Surprise, surprise! The Temple of Heaven is not an active temple instead it is a museum now. A huge museum that is larger than the Forbidden City if include the gardens. The actual buildings are not quite as impressive though, but it is well worth visiting. The gardens are beautiful and so is the architecture.

One of my favorite things about seeing the Temple of Heaven was getting a peek at the inside of the buildings. The exterior architect already amazes me but the interior offers so much more. They have intricately painted ceilings, exposed beams, intricately painted exposed beams. They're beautiful!

During the half day tour, although the time is very short, our tour guide told us a lot about this old architecture most of which is the history. Finishing the half day tour, we decided to experience the famous Beijing Nightlife. Sanlitun is very famous and I heard it many times. Now I got the chance to visit there. We four guys sitting in the bar hearing the beautiful songs. How cool, I like it!

Impressive Half Day Hutong Tour

This is my second time to Beijing and I absolutely have a wonderful trip. Today is my last travel day in Beijing. In the morning I cleared up my luggage and at 1:30 pm began my half day hutong walking tour. Thanks a lot to my knowledgeable English speaking tour guide. I learnt so much about the history of ancient Beijing during this short trip.

The tour began at Shichahai area. With very quiet and comfortable environment, we visited the former residences. Then walk to the 300-year old courtyard nearby for a half an hour visit. This courtyard is a private residence of the Zhu family. It can be dated to the Ming dynasty and it is also one of the most complete existing courtyards in Beijing. As the name implies, these courts are formed by inward—facing houses on four sides, closed in by enclosure walls. The quadrangle uses the brick stone as ink, paper and records of the traditional Chinese concept of family and lifestyle.

Beijing Bell Tower

During the walking tour, I was happy to see a symbol of ancient buildings – Bell and Drum Tower. The Bell Tower bell was very impressive, but I was more impressed with the Tea house at the base of the tower. The Drum Tower was also very impressive, with a great demonstration of the drums and a great view south to the back end of the Forbidden City. The tour guide told me that Bell and Drum Tower is a public pavilion building in ancient China. The bell and drum were originally ancient musical instruments, and later used for timekeeping purposes.

On the way back, I got the chance to walk through Yinding Bridge, a narrow channel joining Qianhai Lake and the Houhai Lake; Tobacco Pipe Lean Street, a quaint 800-year-old hutong located directly north of Yinding Bridge. The name of it also has a legend as well.

About 5:30 pm I got back to my hotel, and then I found my legs have become feeble. I really need to do some exercises. After three days trip, I have to say goodbye to Beijing. I really enjoy my trip here. Thank you very much to beijinglandscapes.

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