Saturday, 21 February 2009

Freezing in Magnificent Beijing: Part 1

 Most of the time  in China the weather had been warm and humid. In Beijing it was bright, sunny and absolutely freezing. The drop in temperature was a real shock to system. Suddenly I was glad that I remembered to bring gloves.

The day started with a short visit Beijing Zoo to see the pandas. We ran to the enclosures as quickly as we could. Pandas are morning creatures so most of them were out and a large group of youngsters were busy playing.

While the majority of our group stayed looking at the youngsters I walked around to see if any of the other pandas were outside. In a nearby enclosure an enormous male panda, who we named Dave, was busy wandering around, finding food and generally being lazy. Dave the panda was certainly the cleanest bear I had seen so far. He seemed to be too mature to roll around in the mud.

We left Dave to his wandering and headed for the Forbidden City. The city is an amazing piece of work. It contains just under a thousand rooms and some of the most incredible architecture I had seen in China. Even though it was winter the gardens were still wonderful with a mixture of impressive pagodas, rocks and winter vegetation. Certain rooftops even had fine symbolic figures carved into them.

We moved through to the living quarters where the last young emperor would have played (Watch the film ‘The Last Emperor’), and out into one of the many enormous courtyards. The weather continued to get colder. Our journey through the city reached the great gate and we passed through and out, under a portrait of Chairman Mao, into Tian-An-Men Square. The place was heaving with visiting Chinese tourists taking pictures.

The main square is separated from the Forbidden City by a very busy road. The only way to reach it safely was from a nearby underpass. We excitedly rushed along to get to the other aside.

To be continued...

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