Thursday, October 14, 2010
On our first full day in Beijing, we rode the bikes that we rented at the Happy Dragon Hostel to Tiananmen Square. As we got closer, I had the feeling that I had been there before - or at least somewhere very much like it. It took me a few minutes to figure it out, but then I realized that Tiananmen Square was a lot like the Zócalo in Mexico City. It's a huge square surrounded by stoutly imposing government buildings with lots of soldiers everywhere keeping the order, & a huge flag waving from the top of an enormous flagpole. It was awesome.
Across the street from Tiananmen Square, we saw the gate to the Forbidden City with the famous portrait of Mao Zedong overseeing life in the center of Beijing. We parked our bikes in the bike parking lot, paid the attendant 1 RMB (about US 15 cents), & went inside.
We passed through the gate & followed the crowd down a long pathway lined with souvenir vendors. After walking the distance of a couple of football fields, we finally arrived at the ticket booth where we paid 60 RMB (about US $9) to enter.
Once inside, we passed through one massive building after the next, all with curly rooftops & intimidating statues of lions in front. With all of our picture taking & gawking at the incredible details of each building, it took us a couple of hours to reach the final building at the back of the immense complex. This place is huge!
After a brief rest, we headed back to the front gate, going with the flow of the crowd. We were back at the bike parking lot in about 15 minutes, & we rode back to the hostel to get ready for a night at a Beijing opera.