China - Summer Palace & The Forbidden City
The first stop of today is the Summer Palace. As today is a Saturday, it is a little bit busier the normal.
The first three days of this trip we spent in Beijing, visiting various attractions.
The first day we visited the Temple of Heaven, just south of our hotel next to the Forbidden City.
The second day were on a guided tour to the Juyong Pass to see the Great Wall of China. After the wall, we went to see the Ming Dynasty Tombs.
Today, we're going to the "main" attractions of the city, the Summer Palace and the Forbidden City.
As with every monument you can buy an pass to enter the park, but that doesn't mean you can enter everything in the park. To do that you need to buy an all-access pass. With this we were able to walk down here by the water, yay!
Even though it was still early, the crowds were already building up.
The complex starts with the beautifull canals, then it's a (small) hike up the mountain, and finally you descend to the lake where most of the structures are located.
At the top you're rewarded with a view of the outskirts of Beijing.
The lake is huge and since we were only here for the morning, we didn't walk around it, but instead explored the structures nearby.
Originally a temple, it was burned down in 1860 and later rebuild as a bedchamber for Empress Dowager Cixi. When she moved in, she became ill and thought it was because it was so close to the Tower of Buddhist Incense (below) and it's Buddhist territory. So she moved to another building and only used the Hall of Dispelling Clouds to receive tributes and congratulations on her birthday.
Built on Longlevity Hill, the Tower of Buddhist Incense was built during the reign of Emperor Qianlong and is a religious structure.
We didn't climb to the top of the Tower of Buddhist Incense. We still felt the Great Wall hike in our legs, and time was running out.
Being Dutch as we are we decided to not spend the 3 Yuan on a bike ride to the subway station and walk over there ourselves. After a couple of minutes we figured out we were heading the wrong way. It took us a good 15 minutes to get to the subway station. We later calculated that 3 Yuan is not even 40 euro cents...
The Forbidden City is the place to visit when in Beijing. And it still being a Saturday, we could expect some crowds.
But first lunch! We made the mistake to already enter the complex, so it was either Western fast-food or Chinese fast-food. Chinese fast-food it is.
Now this was some next-level fancy stuff, it was self-heating rice. You'd buy this rice meal and you get it cold. The container is actually two containers, an outer and an inner, where the food is housed. You break a seal in the outer container and chemicals mix, heating up your meal. When you buy it, they break the seal for you, and they are able to serve a huge amount of customers very fast. Brilliant!
After finally figuring out where to get the tickets, we moved on to the entrance.
The Forbidden City is where the emperor lived during his reign and dates back to 1406 when Emperor Yongle of the Ming Dynasty decided to build an imperial palace in Beijing
The first part of the complex consists of large squares surrounded with buildings.
I mentioned the busy Saturday thing, right?
The Forbidden City lies in the centre of Beijing, but inside you hear nothing of the busy streets. The only way you are reminded you're in the city is by the skyscrapers that pop up every once in a while.
The second part has more alleys and backstreets, filled with even more buildings.
There are endless places to wander around and you could easily spend the day there. At some point in the afternoon we reached the exit.
You used to be able to exit at all gates, but because of the crowds, the Forbidden City is a one-way deal. This means street vendors know exactly where you'll be. .
Since our hotel was next to the entrance, we had to circle the complex to get back.
After having done mostly tours and only walked to the nearest subway stop, we finally get to see some of the non-touristy Beijing.
Near our hotel, at the front of the palace, things were fancy again.
After freshing up in the hotel, we set out for food.
The forbidden city is located at the People's Square with lots of government buildings.
We ducked into a random side-alley and found some tables on the sidewalk outside a restaurant. With hand and feet we managed to order food and we got the best Chicken Cashew meal I have ever eaten. It was _so_ good.
Half-way in the meal it started raining and together with the staff and other diners we moved everything inside. It might not sound like much, but it's these little things that makes travel awesome
After the delicious meal we wandered around some more and finally got back to the hotel for a nightcap in the hotel gardens.
China - Temple of Heaven
China - The Great Wall of China & Emperors Tomb
China - Summer Palace & The Forbidden City
South Korea - Gwangjang market, Cheonggyecheon and Dongdaemun Design Plaza
South Korea - Gyeongbokgung Palace, The War Memorial and Banpo Bridge
South Korea - North Korea (Panmunjeom) & N Seoul Tower
Japan - Shinjuku
SKYTREE, Asakusa, Ueno, Akihabara
Shinjuku - Ginza - Tsukiji Fish market - Meiji Jingu - Shibuya - Omotesando