Tuesday morning, about 9am we walked to Tiananmen Square which is only ten minutes from the King’s Joy Hotel. We thought we would get there before the tourist hordes and get some photos of the Square whilst it was relatively empty. Yeah right!!!!! I think the whole of Beijing had the same thoughts that day.
We picked up a Beijing style “Hot dog”, a roll with ham and egg from a hawker stand and crossed the road under the watchful eye of one of the hundreds of police and army present, We were scanned before entry, even though it is a huge area it is surrounded by a low fence and entry check points. Phew we were OK. There were an amazing number of people in the Square and huge TV screens playing images that reflected China’s military might. There was also a considerable number of soldiers and they had tight control of the crowds. Be warned – they may stare at you, but do not stare at them…and do not take their picture.
We wandered (as Wombats do) around the square with the other five or so million tourists. It is funny to see all the Chinese tour groups lining up to have their photos taken. They are so organised. Well having seen the square we crossed the eight lane road that separated the square from the forbidden city. (by a huge tunnel, not through the traffic)
The queues were gigantic so we settled on a lesser popular gate and ended up for 10 yuen in some very beautiful gardens. It was tulip display time and we spent an hour or so roaming around the 28 hectare gardens.
Jumped on an electric tram, paid our 2y and expected a tour of the area. But no, it took us about 400 meters up the road and dropped us off at the East gate. So we walked a while, saw what we though was the museum, took one look at the crowds streaming up the road and queuing up to go in, got told to stop videoing by the police, and walked out to end up on the streets. Where? No idea. So we walked and walked asking regularly where the Metro or subway was as we needed to go to Beijing Railway station and purchase tickets to Guilin. Might as well talk to a brick wall. Sure we don’t speak Chinese but no one we met could speak English, although we thought “Metro” “Subway” “Train” would be understood.
Anyway that’s another story so read about that later.
HOWEVER THE STORY IS NOT OVER ………
On Friday morning we thought we would be smart and once again go to Tianemin and The Forbidden City but this time go at 7.30am before it opened (We were told it opens at 8am)
So off we wandered again (as Wombats do) and Guess what !!!!!!
At 7.30am there were THOUSANDS of people there. All Chinese mainly in tour groups. All with different coloured hats so they don’t get lost. But this time we headed for The Forbidden City and walked through the first gate. There were barricades across the road at the main entrance so we sat down with hundreds of Chinese to wait and see. Eventually about 9am the gates opened and the hordes moved in. We joined them but were told “To go and buy a ticket” … Where?…”Over there” Well when I looked “over there” and saw the possibly thousands queuing for tickets so we did exactly what we did last time. Paid 2y for the little tourist tram to take us to the East gate and wandered off. Very disappointed.
All in all it was a great shame to have come all this way and not see ‘The Forbidden City” and Tiananmen Square in all it’s glory but if you could see the huge throng of people trying to pack in there you would understand. But we can say……. “Been there, done that”
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