Friday, October 2, 2009

September 26-October 2 - Bumming around Beijing

Originally we had not planned to come into Beijing but once we heard about the huge parade and celebrations that we going on this week here for China's 60th Anniversary we decided to make a detour and include it in our trip. We had heard that the government had a huge party planned for October 1st: some 40,000 potted plants to line the street, a massive parade including their largest military parade ever, and a big fireworks display that night. Once we got here we quickly realized that we would not be able to witness any of the festivities. In fact the entire parade route from start to finish was closed down to the public and only party members invited by the government could attend. As we (along with most everyone else in Beijing) were excluded from seeing anything regarding the nation's anniversary, we booked tickets on the next train to Chengdu (where we will be continuing cycling away from the pollution of Beijing) on October 3rd, and set out to take in the many sights of Beijing.
Below is a picture of the many flowers that lined the streets of Beijing leading up to October 1st.
Leading up to October 1st, the only thing that outnumbered the many flowers on the street were the number of SWAT police (such as the group below) which were stationed on every corner. I did like though how they managed to combine the flowers with the SWAT police. Very metro-sexual.
While hanging out in Beijing we went to a few of the typical tourist sights including the great wall (which was indeed great), the forbidden city (which is in fact not forbidden), the and the summer palace (which was really more of a lake with a path around it). We decided not to do too many of these sites because for me (this is Mike here) most popular and busy tourist sights are like a really big stack of pancakes. It is great for the first little bit, but you quickly get really freaking sick of it. The rest of the time in the city we spent reading, practicing chinese, and just generally wandering around the city.
Jen and I in Tiananmen square. This was two days before the parade and everyone already had to pass through security just to enter the square.
The great wall. We did a really nice 10km hike along the wall with Francois-Xavier and Maggie (two other french tourists we met at our hotel).
The only downside to the hike along the wall (as in much of China so far) was the pollution. This view out the window was typical and even at noon the sun in the sky was barely visible through the smog.
Mike jumping on the great wall because jumping is fun and there was still alot of pancakes to eat before the day was done.
The section of the wall that we hiked was really beautiful but hilly. When Jen made it to to the top of this hill it was time for a jump.
And one last jump to end the day! (that is Francis-Xavier on the left)
Jen and I with a Vinney, Hugo, Morgan (the cyclists that we rode into Beijing with) and Francois-Xaier and Maggie (as seen in the Great Wall photos) at the summer palace. Although we did not actually get into the palaces, the walk around the lake was beautiful.
Me attacking Jen at the summer palace.

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