We spent about a week and a half in Beijing. It was probably a little too long but we managed to see everything we wanted.

To jump to a section, pick a link below.

The Forbidden City

Wangfujing Street

The Great Wall of China

The Temple of Heaven

The Lake District

The Summer Palace

Coming in from the airport.

The NE corner of the Forbidden City, about a block from our hotel.

The Forbidden City moat.

Crossing the street is always an adventure. When two objects (busses, cars, bikes, scooters and people) both want to be in the street at the same place right of way is given based on who will cause the most damage to the other in a collision. That vehicle gets right of way.


The Forbidden City, as the residence of the terrestrial emperor, was its earthly counterpart. Jin, or "Forbidden", referred to the fact that no-one could enter or leave the palace without the emperor's permission. The Forbidden City is the world's largest surviving palace complex and covers 720,000 square metres (0.72 km2 or 0.28 mi2). It is a rectangle 961 metres from north to south and 753 metres from east to west. It consists of 980 surviving buildings with 8,707 bays of rooms. I could plagiarize more (like I'll do later), or, if you are interested, you could just go here (Forbidden City). The source of all knowledge.

Inside the Forbidden City

The Forbidden City, like most gardens and parks liked to cement rocks together to make these structures

More of the gardens in the Forbidden City. After we left, everything was paved.

This is about when the crowds start in earnest.

This is mostly a picture of the 4 other people taking pictures

That worked pretty well, right?

These are for you dad.

I believe this is the Hall of Harmony

This is the backside of the Wumen (Meridian Gate), the southern gate of the Forbidden city. On film, its hard to capture the sheer immensity that is built into the structures and spaces. This entire courtyard is paved with stone. Except for the roads themselves nothing is concrete. Sidewalks, courtyards, pavilions and paths are done in stonework.

On the other side of the gate we find our good friend Mao.

Mao Zedong . The portrait measures 20 feet by 15 feet and weighs over 1.5 tons. Each takes about 2 weeks to create and they are reinforced with fiberglass and

I think this is the people's flagpole located in Tianamen Square. It wasn't actually a cloudy day. At least I don't think it was. We didn't see the sky until later in the week when the rainstorms tried to clear the air. Well at least it was easier to tell where in the sky the sun was. Its a very oppressive feeling to be surrounded in a soft white haze for days at a time. Not being able to see the skyline of the city makes it feel smaller than it really is. When we were standing in the square it wasn't possible to see anything past the buildings immediately located on the square.

Mao's Mausoleum. Like most of Beijing it was getting a face life for the Olympics and so we were unable to go inside.

Just in case any ruffians try to sneak in and steal a peak at Mao.

Just about all the streets and roads are lined with walls like this one.

Behind the wall

You think your all that McDonald's? We'll do one better.

They have very high hopes for the new street they are building,

This is the restaurant where we had Peking Duck.

Despite its outward appearance its quite famous. Jasur wanted his picture taken will Al.

Part of their successful advertising campaign.

Part of the Western Beijing train station

Silk Street: aka Xiushuijie, Sells knock-off luxury brand products, silk products, and tourist souvenirs,one of the best-known tourist destinations in Beijing (especially for foreign visitors). This is the first markets. All the markets Good for silks and pearls.

This is pretty much how the markets worked. Tightly packed booths overflowing with stuff and attended by aggressive identically dressed salespeople. If you showed any weakness while walking down an aisle (like looking at a product) a salesperson would immediately extoll the virtues of the item. Everyone knew the same 5 or 6 phrases ("very good quality", "real leather" and "I give very good price just for you") and in a number of languages. All negotiations were done on a calculator so unless you had a tough question like "do you have this in another color" buying things was not that difficult. Not getting ripped of like the stupid American tourists we were was a little harder.

This is the small shop outside our hotel. I never actually saw any wine.

Take that Motel 6

This is Earl's second location outside the U district.

Wangfujing Street

Wangfujing Street is one of the Chinese capital's most famous shopping streets. The road is off-limits to cars and other motor vehicles, except the water trucks that water the plants. The street is usually full of people.

A coke stand on Wangfujing Street

A shopping mall we found off of Wangfujing Street.

I got yelled at for taking this picture.

I think this one is my favorite.


The stores are pretty much identical to the ones in the US, even the prices. Except the coffee isn't very good and the menu is in Chinese. Everyone at the counter speaks Starbuck's drink English.

A banner for Fike.

Back on Wangfujing Street

There is a guy under all that Styrofoam somewhere.

The People's Gymnasium

The Workers Stadium

This is the first seatbelt I found in a cab. All the cabs have seat covers and usually they don't have holes for the buckles.

The Great Wall of China

This is from the van that was taking us the great wall tour. Tianamen Square with the Monument to the People's Heroes on the left and the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong in the middle.

We were dropped off and our van immediately left. (Its this deserted looking the other direction too). Were about 5 miles from the last village we passed.

Luckily there was this guy. This was our guide on the Great Wall tour we went on. He smoked like a chimney the whole way and spoke absolutely no English.

On the wall

We found this guy in the highest tower we came across a wall. Somehow it wasn't that surprising.

This is the village we hiked to.

The Temple of Heaven

The Temple of Heaven, literally the Altar of Heaven is a complex of Taoist buildings situated in southeastern urban Beijing. The complex was visited by the Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties for annual ceremonies of prayer to Heaven for good harvest. It is regarded as a Taoist temple, although Chinese Heaven worship, especially by the reigning monarch of the day, pre-dates Taoism. The temple is surrounded by trees and green spaces and was very popular the day we went. Many families were out enjoying the day.

This is the Alter of Heaven. It is a circular stone terrace of three levels built inside a square enclosure. The lowest terrace symbolizes the earth, the middle is the world of human beings and the top is heaven. The floors of the terraces are made of stone slabs and their construction is based on the number 9 and its multiples. Odd numbers were considered the attribute of heaven (yang) and since 9 is the highest odd number (sort of) the innermost circle on the top level of the terrace consists of nine stones. The next ring around it consists of 18, the next ring 27 and so on. The 27th ring, the outermost ring on the lowest terrace consists of 243 slabs of stone.

A lot of the structures that were not the main attracts were given face-lifts to their exteriors and boarded up so you could not get inside. This view is through a crack in the door of one.

This is the Hall of Heaven (or the Imperial Vault of Heaven). Inside are the ancestor tablets of the emperors. It was believed that their spirits were present in the tablets during the ceremony.

The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest. The is a magnificent triple-gabled circular building, 32 meters in diameter and 38 meters tall. It is where the Emperor prayed for good harvests. The building is completely wooden, with no nails. It was rebuilt after it burned down in 1889.

After the temple of heaven we ate here at the Beijing Noodle King. The servers yell out your arrival and then, in our case, stand over us while we slowly paw through the menu. They like to help and repeatedly suggest the expensive fish dishes. On the whole though, this was one of our favorite restaurants. The chicken and peanuts was very good as was the braised eggplant in sauce.

The Lake District

This is the bronze clepsydra inside the drum tower.

This is one of the oldest drums in existence. It dates from the original tower built in 1747.

This is one of the largest.

From the tower you can look down into one of the few remaining Hutongs (old neighborhoods) that still exist around the lake district.

Most shops had their own goldfish bowl.

One of the shops in the lake district.

We only ate at Mcdonalds once. But it was hard to find breakfast sometimes. It was basically the same thing as in the US,

The surroundings were a little different though,

I like this pic for the traffic signals.

This is Beihai park. The tower is the White Pagoda,

This is one of the Five Dragon Pavilions. Each one is filled with its own band and dancers each trying to out perform the next. My favorite was the man with the electric harmonica. The bands played a lot of Christmas music for some reason. A fact we didn't really notice until the musicians in the pavilion we were on finished there exuberant rendition of Jingle Bells and, in the resulting quite, we realized the band one pavilion over was playing the same song.

Water Calligraphy

At first we thought these were playgrounds but they are actually sidewalk gyms.

Even if it was famous we didn't try any.

This was a grocery store we found in the lake district. It was very welcome. Interestingly enough, the grocery store down the street from is Dissmores which is also an IGA. I wouldn't buy meat from it either. [rimshot]

Although the inside was very nice, the entrance was a little sketchy.

Many of the trees were painted like this. We were told it was because of pest control.


Detail of the tiles of glazed Buddhas on the Hall of Beneficent Causation.

View from the top.

Inside the Temple.

The Summer Palace

The Summer Palace or Yiheyuan (literally "Garden of Nurtured Harmony") is mainly dominated by Longevity Hill (60 meters high) and the Kunming Lake. It covers an expanse of 2.9 square kilometers, three quarters of which is water. The central Kunming Lake covering 2.2 square kilometers was entirely man made and the excavated soil was used to build Longevity Hill. In its compact 70,000 square metres of building space, one finds a variety of palaces, gardens, and other classical-style architectural structures.

This is the day we saw the sky. This is actually the corner of the forbidden city that was outside our hotel room.

The Garden of Virtue and Harmony

This is an illegal picture of the first car in China, it was given to the Emperor as a gift.

The stage of the theater (garden)

This structure is appropriately called The Long Corridor. Even though it is 796 yards every available space is covered in pictures of birds, flowers and depictions of famous legends or eras of Chinese history.

Fan dancers in the park.

Were pretty sure this is a boat or something on fire. We never got close enough to see but we could see other boats spraying water on it.

Even the walkways were intricately constructed.

Some of the foliage.

We walked through a University after the summer palace.

It happened to be Peoples Liberation Army day.

And we found Google.

I don't think there were actually apartments in this building so maybe they were advocating sleeping at your desk.

It might be hard to see but the man in the red hat is pulling all that stuff with his bike.

Public ping pong tables.

This is our hotel the Redwall. The room was small but otherwise it was pretty good.

Chinese version of windshield leafleting

We found this stay rooster wandering down the road. No one seemed to claim him, or notice him either.

Come on... you know you want what's in that minibar.

There was scaffolding everywhere due to the ridiculous amount of construction going on. Unlike this however, most of it was metal.

Inside the train station.

On To Xi'an

Xi'an sucks, lets go to Ürümqi

I just wanna go Home