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Tiananmen Square (Tiananmen Guangchang)
It was around 3 by the time we reached back to city. Now was the time for visiting other landmarks - Tiananmen Square, Temple of heaven and Forbidden city. We spent some time at Tiananmen Square. Forbidden city is just opposite to it. But we missed the other two places by some wrong time estimation as Forbidden city last entry closes early and you can visit only limited portions in Temple of Heaven if you are reaching post 5.30 pm. Although this miscalculation cost me the experience to see those other creations, but I guess the visit to Great Wall itself was itself good enough an experience to cherish. We were to take afternoon flight next day for our onward journey. But guess the Beijing experience was not just over for us. Next day early morning when I woke up, there was this beautiful snowfall. The road, the cars, the roof, the trees all were covered with snow flakes.
First site on today’s agenda was Summer Palace that was easy to sget to by Line 4 on subway at Beigongmen Station. Listed by UNESCO as World Heritage site its described as “a masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design. The natural landscape of hills and open water is combined with artificial features such as pavilions, halls, palaces, temples and bridges to form a harmonious ensemble of outstanding aesthetic value.” There are some twenty different attractions spread across three square km area of the palace. In one of the halls I was lucky to catch live performances of marshal-arts, dances and Chinese music as done in ancient times to entertain royalty and their guests. It took about four-five hours to wonder around this mammoth complex including climbing Longevity Hill. The Tower of Buddhist Incense and Clouds Gathering Temple on top of the hill were most beautiful relics of Chinese heritage. Next stop for the day was busiest shopping street of Wangfujing. There is a snack street that has food stalls selling exotic stuff as alive spiders, silk warms, seahorses that would be served deep fried on a stick and seasoned to taste for the brave-hearts! For more mundane affair lamb kebabs, dumplings and wraps would tickle your taste buds. If you are an avid reader than visit to Beijing Foreign Language Book Store would be a great stop. I spent couple of hours browsing through work of contemporary Chinese authors writing in English. Picked up a book by Mark Salazman titled The Laughing Sutra with story written in the most hilarious fashion of a Chinese monk’s travel to America in search of a manuscript for his master that can lead to immortality. Salsa in Beijing? The club Salsa Caribe was perfect destination for a night out. Seeing Chinese grooving on salsa beats of a Cambodian live band was most amazing experience. What I loved about the club was no one to scan at entrance what are you dressed up in, if its floaters or stiletto you are at your will to dance the night away. No pretense, sheer fun. I joined the group dancing and learning the salsa moves!Day 08: Bonding Over Hookah and Goa