A Chinese proverb says: “Seeing is worth a thousand words”. Before coming to China, I must admit it, my opinions about China and Chinese people were neutral and my knowledge regarding chinese culture was limited with China Towns in the big cities and Chinese taxi drivers and cheap Chinese meals in the western world. Eventhough it was a short trip, it helped me a lot to understand how biased I was about this culture. Anybody who thinks that China is equal to cheap goods should spend a few days in one of the Chinese cities and I’m pretty sure that his /her ideas will be totally different from what they were used to be.
The first day when I arrived to Beijing, I felt as if I came to visit a civilization without writing, because a few places have descriptions or translations in English or in Latin characters. This is somethşng as if you are trying to solve a puzzle to understand the meaning of street or stores names. At the end of the day, I understood that the best way of communication was with help of signs. And like anywhere in the world, you don’t have to know any language when you want to communicate with children, a smile is enough to take their pictures. In Beijing, even most of the tourists are from Chinese, therefore, a person from the west can attract the attention of Chinese and most of the Chinese children are interested to take my pictures while I was trying to take theirs!
Little Chinese Girl!
The first day, I discovered Tiananmen Square. I think that this is one of the largest suares in the world. Tiananmen, in other words, the Gate of Heavenly Peace was not so peaceful with the invasion of tourists and suffocting heat; however we went there to take pictures under the poster of Mao. This is the place where you have to be if you want to visit the famous Forbidden City. In fact, the Imperial Palace, built at the beginning of 15th c., was where the emperors lived while people had lived in the surrounding outer quarter of the palace, which are called today “hutongs”.
When you visit the Tiananmen together with the Imperial Palace, you discover the feeling of harmony; in fact, and what I understood, basically, this is one of the 4 elements of Confucius, the others being, “peace”, “rest” and “quiet”.
Because there’s a great interest especially to the Imperial Palace, it’s worth to go there in the early morning or in the afternoon, before closing hours to avoid the crowds.
Gate of Heavenly Peace, North of Tiananmen, way to the Imperial Palace
Mao and his guards
At noon, the heat became unbearable and we decided to go to the Beijing Zoo. It’s really very easy and comfortable to go there by taking the chilly metro!
In the zoo, our aim was of course to see the giant pandas, but I also recommend that you see other sections. The zoo is on a vast area, and it was pleasant to spend a few hours there under the shadow of the alleys.
Isn’t she cute?
Look at my long and beautiful queue!
We finished the day in the new commercial complex called Sun Litun. This is the trendiest part of the city in those days. There are good places to eat, for those if you wish to eat other than Chinese food. We tried “La Pizza” restaurant and the pizza was really as good as in Rome!
North Sun Li Tun and new trendy place of Beijing
Sun Li Tun and Beijing by night!