China Travel Blog Part 1-Beijing
Beijing Inspection Trip- Written by Adaptable Travel Educational Travel Consultant Ricky Behan
Since the spectacular opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, China has always been a country I have wanted to visit as it exudes an exciting blend of ancient and modern against a backdrop of stunning scenery. Considered by many as one of the world’s most enticing and enigmatic countries, China for years was closed to the outside world which served to add to its mystery and charm. However a gradual change in policy and an easing of restrictions has allowed China to showcase its culture heritage on an international stage.
On my first day in Beijing I was taken to the political heartland of China, Tiananmen Square, which has great cultural significance in China as it is the site of site of several important events in Chinese history. This gives it iconic status and makes it a must see landmark for any tourist visiting China. Flanked by stern 1950’s Soviet-style buildings Tiananmen Square is the world’s largest public square and is considered central to China’s political ideology as it is where Chairman Mao announced the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.Adjacent to Tiananmen Square and in direct contrast to the soviet inspired buildings is the opulent Forbidden Palace, China’s largest and best preserved collection of ancient buildings. The contrast between these two infamous landmarks is amazing as it really illustrates the diverse nature of China and in particular old versus new. Off limits for 500 years the Forbidden Palace is ancient China personified as it lays bare China’s distinct and unique architecture in all its glory. As you walk around you are taken aback by the level of decadence and intricate detail employed into designing the vast buildings that make up the Forbidden Palace complex.
After a short lunch another opulent palace to explore and the Summer Palace is like no other. With its vast array of grounds, temples, gardens, pavilions, lakes and bridges the Summer Palace is a marvel of landscaping. In comparison to the Forbidden Palace and Tiananmen Square, the Summer Palace is a welcome break to the old imperial city with its open spaces, huge lake and hilltop views which makes it a much more relaxed visit. Finally to finish off an action packed day of sight-seeing I was able to visit the Olympic Park and see another one of Beijing’s iconic landmarks, the Birds Next Stadium. Lit up in the night sky, the Birds Nest Stadium is a grandeur spectacle as any and is a potent symbol of China’s ambition and emergence as a global superpower.
Located in South Beijing, the morning of my second day in Beijing, was spent in the tranquil setting of the Temple of Heaven where you can observe local residents involved in their daily Tai Chi exercises as well watching them play the ancient board game of Mahjongg. This gives you a real insight into Chinese culture and eastern practises as well as allowing you to see another masterpiece of Ming architecture. Soaring high into the sky, the Temple of Heaven symbolises the relationship between earth and heaven and it was built in accordance with the notion that “heaven is round, earth is square.”
No trip to Beijing is complete however without a trip to one of the greatest wonders of the world, the Great Wall of China. Built over 2000 years ago, the Great Wall is a staggering feat of engineering and construction that symbolises traits of Chinese culture- diligence, man-power and ambitious vision. One of the country’s most popular tourist sites the Great Wall snakes its way 6000km along the north of China and from standing on the wall you really can see no end to its magnitude.