Temple of Heaven (Tiantan Park)
The next day after breakfast we went for sightseeing. Our first stop was the Temple of Heaven where Beijing’s seniors gather each morning to enjoy a variety of activities; from badminton and Tai Chi to street opera and ballroom dancing, This is a true taste of Chinese community life! Of course you also visit the magnificent temple itself.
Tiananmen Square (Tiananmen Guangchang)
The Tian'AnMen Square is known as the spiritual heart of China. Famous for its historical events, like demonstrations on May 4th, 1999, that inspired young Chinese to fight imperialists and warlords, and build a strong independent country. The Gate of Heavenly Peace is on the square's north end. And at the center of the square is the 40m-high Monument to the People's heroes and Chairman Mao’s Mausoleum. Also, the Great Hall of the People lies on the west along with the Museum of Chinese History.
Temple of Heaven Park
The Temple of Heaven Park is located in the Chongwen District, Beijing. It is China's largest and most representative existing masterpiece among China’s ancient sacrificial buildings. The Temple is divided by two encircling walls into an inner part and outer part. The main buildings lie at the south and north ends of the middle axis of the inner part. The most magnificent buildings are the Circular Mound Altar (Huanqiutan), the Imperial Vault of Heaven (Huangqiongyu) and the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest (Qiniandian) from south to north.
Gate of Heavenly Peace (Tian'an Men)
Most people visit Tian'anmen Square on their way to the Forbidden City. Both can be done together in a morning or afternoon. Tian'anmen Square is the largest public square in the world. It is arguably the most-visited site in Beijing. It lies on the historical central axis going through the Forbidden City.
Beijing Zoo was planned as a "side dish" rather than a "main dish". The main reason we went to Beijing Zoo was the Panda House. The entrance to Beijing Zoo + Panda House + Boat trip = CNY40 If you want to visit the aquarium, you can add some money. Young bamboo shoots were planted surrounding the area. Whereas the pandas were locked in their cages and play area. The part that excites me was the boat trip. There are 2 boat trips: Round Trip to Purple Bamboo Garden (returning to the Zoo) Single Trip to Summer Palace (not returning to the Zoo) Went into the boat. A guide were explaining the history of the waterways. The waterways that were using were also used by the Empress Dowager Cixi. The bridge on top were low in height. During rainy days, the boat would not be able to pass through.It was interesting.At the end she announced that we have arrived at the Purple Bamboo Garden. Excited. I was ready to get off the boat.
The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty. It is located in the center of Beijing, China. Built in 1406 to 1420, the complex consists of 980 buildings and covers 7,800,000 sq ft. Its worth seeing the Forbidden City.
5. BEIJING NATIONAL STADIUM: Another place that makes it to the to- do list is the Birdnest Olympic Stadium and the Olympic WaterPark. It was designed as the main stadium of 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. National Aquatics Center, and colloquially known as the Water Cube, is an aquatics center that was built alongside Beijing National Stadium in the Olympic Green for the swimming competitions of the 2008 Summer Olympics. Despite its nickname, the building is not an actual cube, but a cuboid (a rectangular box).THINGS TO EAT IN CHINANow, China is a hard core non vegetarian country. Anything and everything you can think off is eaten here which might just amaze you throughout your trip. The place is a paradise for all the non- vegetarians, however, survival seems to be difficult for someone like me who happens to be a vegetarian. Here is a guide to some of the very well known sumptuous feasts in China:1. The Beijing Duck: Peking Duck or Beijing Duck is best-known for the thin and crispy skin, rich taste and long history. the popular opinion is conclude some ways and timing to eat Beijing duck. The duck is tasted palatable in spring, winter and autumn. The authentic versions of dish should be served with most skin and little meat. Generally it is eaten with pancakes, sweet bean sauce and scallion. The sweet bean sauce is smeared on the pancakes, then slices of meat is put between the pancakes. 2. DUMPLINGS: Dumplings have a delicate wheat-flour skin around warm, moist prawn or pork contents. They are similar to what we call Momos in India. The crescent-moon dumplings are served steamed, fried or in a soup, sold by the number of dumplings or weight. Use your chopsticks to share from the one platter–the Chinese way. On your table you’ll find black rice-vinegar and smoky chilli-oil to drizzle into your little dipping sauce dish. Be ready for the juicy dumpling contents to burst with flavour in your mouth. 3. FLATBREAD: Golden-toasted flatbreads and pastries come in many tasty forms in China’s capital and make a filling street food cooked on the spot or a shareable restaurant starter.They are similar to sweet pooris in India. 4. MOONCAKES: A Mid-Autumn Festival favourite, I did not have the chance to try them but it remains a very sought after thng. The classic yuè bĭng is a sweet biscuity cake with a dense filling of red bean- or lotus-paste around an egg yolk ‘moon’. No sweet snack looks as prosperous and self-contained as round moon cakes branded with Chinese symbols glazed in the tops. 5. BARBEQUE SKEWERS: Beijing has adopted the Chinese-Muslim lamb skewer from Xinjiang and evolved it. Anything that captures your imagination can be skewered and roasted at street hawker stands. The hawkers just stop to as if you'll like it Point to what you want spicy (là) or not (bùlà). as soon as the sun starts to set, these hawkers start putting there stalls on the pavements and you can see a group of men sitting on the small table chit-chatting. As you’re in Beijing and the buzz and dazzling lights of the market might just convince you to try spicy shark, snake, starfish, seahorses or sheep’s testicles. 6. BEIJING HOT POT: Now, this one is a must do.This bubbling copper pot of soup is cooked at your table by you and your friends, adding fresh meat and veg. It’s a warming Beijing favourite.The pot is shaped like a ying-yang. One side the broth is spicy equipped with the famous Chinese spices and the other side is just salt water. Choose what raw vegetables and lamb (or other meat, fish balls or mushrooms) you would like on your platter to cook for yourself in the pot. Then drop in ingredient-by-ingredient what you would like to cook and eat. Each person scoops out their goodies with a slotted spoon (or just chopsticks) and eats it with a dipping sauce, which can include sesame oil, savoury BBQ and fermented soybean. At the end, add the noodles to the soup to draw up the flavours.THINGS THAT MIGHT HELP1. Learn a few Phrases in Mandarin. Very few people are able to speak in English, so it was always great if are able to converse in their language. Like, I am a vegetarian so the words 'Sùshí zhǔyì zhě' were like my trump cards. Plus, you are able to impress them.2. The Beijing Subway is extraordinarily cheap- 2 yuan anywhere in the city. Make good use of it.3. The people in Beijing are relatively louder than the average. It might appear that these folks are fighting but instead they are just having a normal conversation.4. The men prefer to grow the last fingernail of their right hand as it is used to pick the ear and the left one won't do it as well as the right one. 5. Learn to master the art of using chopsticks. These folks eat rice with chopsticks and spoons are difficult to find.
798 Art Zone
This is one of the most famous places that has successfully attracted many artists, poets and painters over the years whether Chinese or from other parts of the world. It is also known as Dashanzi Art District and is 18 km away from the first stop. It is one of the biggest and celebrated art area in Beijing. The area has its roots in the abandoned factory buildings. The art area of 798 can trace back to 2003, when an abandoned factory was rented to a freelance painter, who opened his own art gallery. 798 refer to the name of the factory. The spacious site is a welcome for art galleries and ambitious projects. It goes without saying that 798 has become a hub of contemporary art in modern Beijing. It is a well suited area for art galleries. A walk down the area will help you see the preserved appearance of old factories, rusty steel construction or abandoned site. It is like reliving the past of 798 factory in the old city of Beijing. Today this place holds top quality exhibitions, quaint museums, cafes, cinema screening films most days. It is perfect example of upholding traditions in a modern city. The rustic charm that it endorses truly made it one of my favourite places in the city.
Beijing Capital International Airport
We flew out of Beijing Capital International Airport on Air Koryo. For the "worst ranked airline in the world" it was a hell of a lot better than United! Yes, even the food was better. And the beer was free. This is not as much of a compliment to Air Koryo, North Koreas national airline, but an affront to United. Get your shit together guys.
I started my journey from Qianmen Street which is south of Tianmen Square. It is a pedestrian street in the architectural style of old Beijing. The architecture therefore is impressive. Along the street is a water fountain that had been created by a 3D street artist. I started this trip by trying to capture myself believably in this 3D painting. 3D paintings are on a rise in streets where more tourists are expected and Qianmen Street is a good example of it. The area has some shops and restaurants. A quick meal and you will be set for the entire day.
Later we visited the renowned Forbidden City, for centuries the heart and soul of imperial China and one of the grandest historical treasures in the world. We then went across the city for a rickshaw tour in Beijing’s ‘Hutongs’, a maze of traditional old alleyways and courtyards. We even had tea with a local family and visited the impressive Drum Tower. We ended the day with drinks in the Legation Quarter, a collection of stunning historical buildings converted to restaurants and upscale lounges.
Hutong, an ancient Beijing city, is located in the city center, with about 700 years history. The word "hutong" originated from the word "hottog" which meant "well" in Mongolian. Legends have it that villagers dug out a well and inhabited the area. Those old natives are till date constituting the local families there. In fact the passage formed by lines of Siheyuan (a compound with houses around a courtyard) where old Beijing residents live is laid down in this ancient face of Beijing city. You're sure to get lost in those winding lanes and alleys!
Songzhuang Art Community
I then went to Songzhuang art colony which is I have a complete bias for. It is located in Tongzhou District and is the most famous and biggest artist community in Beijing. Painters, sculptors, performing artists, musicians, composers, writers, photographers, name it and you will meet them all in this single colony. It is in true sense home to about thousand artists. It used to be a laid back quite town but has today managed to emerge as the most sought after centre in China’s contemporary art scene. A tranquil place where all dreamers live next to each other! If you are looking for an environment blessed for deep inner contemplation then Songzhuang is what you are looking for. It is the best place to meet the artists, learn some of their struggles and stories of great achievements. You can begin your trip with a visit to the Artists Reception Center on Xiaopu Jie at the village square or to the Songzhuang Art Museum off Xiaopu Jie in northern Songzhuang.
Nan Xin Cang Hua Lang
Nan Xin Cang was one of the royal granaries for storing grains and rice in the city during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. With 600 years of history, the streets have been carefully recreated to maintain the historical culture of the original Nan Xin Cang. This place depicts a perfect harmony between commercial gains and cultural charm. The old granary is now a popular restaurant and hosts three art galleries, an audio book shop, a tea-house, several bars and restaurants. The place resonates culture through its intricate architecture which originally dates back to 1409. There are ancient grain houses, other replicated traditionally-styled buildings and a 15 storey commercial and office building. With this characteristic charm, this pedestrian street is bestowed with growing love from its visitors. It reflects the simple but elegant architectural style of the Ming.