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My Impressions of China: Beijing, The Capital City

Updated on March 20, 2013

The Capital City of China

Beijing is a special place in China as it is the place where a lot of historical events have happened. However, when I visited Beijing during the winter of 2008, I was marveling at not only the heritage but also the vast improvement in the standards of living there.

The streets were clean, the toilets were presentable and best of all, the service was not too bad. Anyway, I was in Beijing for about one week and visited several places.

1. Great Wall of China

It is definitely a not-to-be missed placed and being there makes you really wonder how it was possible to build something on such a huge scale without the machines that we have now. And yes, it is not a easy climb up but I did it! And the feeling when you look down from the wall is just amazing. As I was there in winter, it was actually quite cooling.

2. Temple of Heaven

This place is also a must visit. Not only for its history or unique design but because here you will get a glimpse of a normal Beijing senior citizen's daily life. They come to the site early in the morning and gather there for activities such as tai chi, games like badminton, dancing, playing chess and so on. It was definitely interesting to see all the old people enjoying themselves and I almost felt like joining them. Too bad, I had to rush on to my next destination.

3. Tiananmen Square & Forbidden City

In the olden days, this area would have been forbidden to all except ministers and of course, the royal family. Now, the area is packed with tourists and it can get a little irritating at times. Yet, I would still recommend this area because it allows one to experience and imagine how life was during the old dynasties. And nearby Forbidden City, is Tiananmen Square which is unfortunately famous for an event which we should alway remember.

The ethereal Temple of Heaven
The ethereal Temple of Heaven

A mixture of Old, New and the Delicious!

4. Hutong

Hutongs are actually the narrow alleyways located in the older part of Beijing. It is like a maze and as I took a trishaw ride along the area, I realised that this area would become extinct someday soon. This is because of the rapid development in the city. More and more people have moved out of their homes in the hutong area and in the near future, this area would remain as a memory in my mind only. If you can, do visit it now before it disappears...

5. Bird's Nest national stadium and Water Cube aquatic center

Both modern buildings are located closeby in the Olympic Village area. It is truly a unique building which I consider to be on par with others such as the Sydney Opera House. Beijing has truly exceeded everyone's expectations with the great display at the Olympics in 2008.

6. Peking Duck

I have listed it here too because I believe that if you haven't tried this local delicacy , you cannot claim to have visited Beijing. In Malaysia, I have tasted Peking duck before. However, the original in Beijing is definitely much better. At the popular Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant, the waitress also taught me the right method of eating the Peking duck! Yummy....

Close Shot of a Panda in Beijing

China's Lovable Pandas

China is also well-known as the place where pandas are most easily found. Although China has presented some countries with pandas as a gift, most of the surviving pandas are still in China, particularly in Szechuan. However, in Beijing's Zoo, there is also a panda corner where I had the opportunity to see some pandas playing about.

Outside of Beijing: Chengde

During my trip, I also visited Chengde which is just a few hours away by bus. However, Chengde is definitely less developed than Beijing. As it is located farther up north, Chengde was also much colder and to my delight, there was lots of snow!

In Chengde, there are some heritage sites such as the:

1. Bishu Shanzhuang Imperial Palace

It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with beautiful landscaped gardens and lakes. As it was winter when I was visiting, most of the lakes were frozen. In the Imperial Palace gardens, there are also deers roaming the area. It is truly a wonderful sight with most areas fully covered in crisp white snow.

2. Eight Outlying Temples

These temples are also part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. For some of the temples, you may be required to climb up some steps so when visiting China, do prepare yourself for lots of exercise!

More information can be obtained here.

Besides Beijing, I have also visited places like Suzhou and Hangzhou, and Hong Kong.

The Great Wall of China


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