Friday, April 29, 2011

Beijing, April 9

We start with Tiananmen square. Turns out you have to go through security just to get there, and it's not a very efficient security check.

The square is huge.

The Forbidden city is also huge, and, unlike the square, quite beautiful. In general all the traditional Chinese palaces and temples look very beautiful to my eye, and very similar to each other, and it occurs to me that if I can't tell 14-century architecture from 18-century architecture, it probably means that somebody has been honoring the traditions too seriously.

After the Forbidden city we go on to the so-called hutongs. "So-called" because, as far as I can say, "hutong" just means some kind of a small street in Chinese, but the hutongs that tourist books talk about are not just any small streets but streets full of traditional courtyard houses, that are actually called siheyuan.

The traditonal courtyard house hutongs mostly consist of gray fences around the courtyard. Usually you can't see the actual houses. Interesting, though.

Some of the hutong areas that tourists don't get taken to, but come upon while walking around the city, have a public toilet in every block, because some of the houses don't have toilets.

Near the touristy hutong area there is a lovely lake, Qianhai, with lots of reastaurants around it, and we decide to visit it later.

After the hutongs we go to the Temple of Heaven, which is somewhat different from the rest of Chinese architecture due to its main hall being round. Lovely temple, lovely long corridor leading to it, lovely park around it. You are not allowed to bring guns there.

In the evening we decide to go to a famous Peking duck restaurant, but at 8:30 we find out that it closes at 9. No duck for us, and we go to some restaurant in a mall.

The mall's basement floor, where we go to buy pastry, is unreal. We are the only customers, but the place is full of counters, mostly selling candy, cookies and suchlike, and staffed by many people who all bow to us as we walk through.

1 comment:

Ironmistress said...

What, no dreidel either?