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Beijing

May 2018

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One week in the capital of China, Beijing. Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, 798 Art District, and various other parts of this wonderful city. And we cycled to the Great Wall of China and walked a lesser known stretch of the wall, without the hurds of tourists which you typically encounter on the most visited parts of the wall in the greater Beijing area. Again, a wonderful experience that makes us want to see more of this incredible country.

Beijing Airport. Impressive, but after 30 minutes in a queue to get through customs it does get boring.
Lypin Courtyard Hotel. The view from our hotel door into the courtyard. Very charming. Imagine the whole day and evening Chinese music...
Strolling through the hutongs quickly became a favorite passtime.
Hutong
Rooms for rent.
Dali Courtyard Restaurant. Yunnan cuisine. One of our favorites. No menu, just fab food.
Lypin Courtyard Hotel by night. Same music.
Tiananmen Square
Tiananmen Square
Tiananmen Gate
Here the Forbidden City begins. Symbol of the People's Republic and the only building in the city still to display the portrait of Mao on the outside.
Lost in translation. The people were very friendly and helped us everywhere.
View towards Tiananmen Square. In the distance, Mao's mausoleum.
View towards Tiananmen Square. In the distance, Mao's mausoleum.
Tiananmen Gate. Obligatory....
Inside Tiananmen Gate
View towards the Meridian Gate of the Forbidden City
Forbidden City. Walking in...
Forbidden City Meridian Gate
Looks like someone left a prop of The Last Emperor behind.
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Forbidden City. Cheering on his people, this little emperor.....
The Forbidden City is of an unbelievable scale. This is the Court of the Imperial Palace, between the Gate of Supreme Harmony and the Hall of Supreme Harmony.
Stunning doors on the Gate of Supreme Harmony. Touching the brass knobs brings fortune. And dirty hands.
The Hall of Supreme Harmony in the distance.
Detail of the Zhendu Gate.
Time to give our feet some much needed rest.
Life is good.....
This used to be a Starbucks, but the locals didn't approve.
Books and souvenirs. Tasteful display.
The Hall of Supreme Harmony.
The crane and the tortoise are symbols of good luck and longevity. These bronze figures are stunning.
The crane and the tortoise are symbols of good luck and longevity. These bronze figures are stunning.
This is the Hall of Preserving Harmony. Detect a pattern?!?!
Away from the crowds, in the Inner Court. This is where the emperor and his family lived, with concubines and eunuchs. And a massive amount of civil servants to keep them within a rigid protocol.
The Western Palaces, with gorgeous gardens and beautiful living quarters.
The Western Palaces, with gorgeous gardens and beautiful living quarters.
The Western Palaces, with gorgeous gardens and beautiful living quarters.
The Western Palaces, with gorgeous gardens and beautiful living quarters.
Popular destination for a (Sunday) school outing.
The Western Palaces, with gorgeous gardens and beautiful living quarters.
The Western Palaces, with gorgeous gardens and beautiful living quarters.
Photo shoot. Don't know what for.
The Eastern Palaces. Still to be restored, which gives a wonderful authentic feel.
The Eastern Palaces. Still to be restored, which gives a wonderful authentic feel.
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The Eastern Palaces. Still to be restored, which gives a wonderful authentic feel.
North of the Forbidden City lies this Jingshan Gongyuan (Coal Hill) Park. It's an artificial mount that offers great views of the Forbidden City and beyond.
North of the Forbidden City lies this Jingshan Gongyuan (Coal Hill) Park. It's an artificial mount that offers great views of the Forbidden City and beyond.
Pooped just like us.... 26.000 steps that day, but SO worth it!!
What a day!! Obligatory....
Murasakitama. When in Beijing, eat Japanese.....
Murasakitama. Delicious and beautiful.
Skilled chef
Nan Luogu Xiang. Nice main street in the hutongs
Lypin Courtyard Hotel. View to the courtyard from the street.
From Beijing to Huanghuacheng. We didn't want to go to the crowded places where you can see the Great Wall, so we booked a tour with Bike Beijing. After 45 minutes by car, we cycled another 15 km to the wall.
From Beijing to Huanghuacheng. Cycling in China is a weird experience.
From Beijing to Huanghuacheng. Half way we stopped at a fish farm. Trout and koi...
Don't like mountain bikes. Never have and never will...
The Great Wall. Huanghuacheng was amazing! Not another tourist in sight and a magical landscape.
Huanghuacheng lunch. Okay, two other tourists. We were a group of 4 with guide. Turns out the others were acquaintances from Kattenlaan (tennis club in Amsterdam)! Lunch was amazing!
The Great Wall at Huanghuacheng is partly restored, but very steep. That is probably why most tourists go to Badaling where they can stroll easily. This was quite a climb!
The Great Wall at Huanghuacheng is partly restored, but very steep. That is probably why most tourists go to Badaling where they can stroll easily. This was quite a climb!
There was some air pollution, so you had to take your time. Unfortunately there was also a lot of rubbish near the watch towers.
The Great Wall. Obligatory.....
Amazing views.
The Great Wall. With a little help from your friend.....
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Hard work....
Amazing views.
Made it!
Not quite....
Back down was easier...but only slightly.
The Great Wall.Obligatory....
That family were having lunch when we walked up and were still having lunch when we came back down, hours later...
Tai Chi Master Just flexing the tired muscles a bit....
DaDong. When in Peking.... Eat Duck!! This place was recommended by locals and man was it good!! The menu book alone was worth the trip.
DaDong. Tasty green mocktail.
DaDong Duck!
DaDong Duck!
DaDong Duck!
DaDong Desert was just some grapes, but the presentation was amazing....
Lypin Courtyard Hotel. View down from the roof terrace.
Hutong walks
Hutong walks
Hutong walks
Hutong walks
Hutong walks
Hutong walks. Everywhere men are playing Chinese checkers.
Hutong walks. Everywhere men are playing Chinese checkers.
Qianmen Street. Didn't like this street so much. All a bit too polished and fake.
Dazhalan. As soon as we turned into the hutongs, away from the main street, the atmosphere was totally different and very authentic.
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Dazhalan
Just beautiful
National Center for the Performing Arts. Also known as The Egg. A masterpiece by French architect Paul Andreu.
Once inside, you walk underneath the 'moat'.
National Center for the Performing Arts
Amazing glass exterior.
Detail of the theatre doors.
Amazing glass exterior.
Not far from the futuristic Egg there is the familiar scene of the hutongs again.
Untour Food Tours takes clients in groups to unknown restaurants. 8 people, 1 guide, 5 restaurants, at least 15 dishes. And a hell of a lot of beer (only 2,5% alcohol, so basically you're drinking premium water).
A fantastic experience! First stop was an unsightly place in the hutongs where they served Mongolian hotpot. It was delicious.
We would never have found this place ourselves.
No broth, just water, many veggies and some lamb meat. The dip was made with sesame paste and spring onions. Delish!!!
No broth, just water, many veggies and some lamb meat. The dip was made with sesame paste and spring onions. Delish!!!
Next stop: tasting rice wine. Some strong, some light, some made with roses or osmanthus.... An experience.
Third stop: noodles. Probably the most common dish in Beijing. This one was with chilli oil, vegetables and chicken. Excellent tastes.
Third stop: noodles. Probably the most common dish in Beijing. This one was with chilli oil, vegetables and chicken. Excellent tastes.
The 5th stop was super! It was a Baiju watering hole. Baiju is a spirit with 28-65% alcohol. It's almost tasteless and is used primarily to get drunk quickly.
We arrived quite late and most clients were pissed.
Another hutong cafe that we would never have found on our own.
The owner is a Mao fan.
Pictures of a watering hole.
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Cafe Zarah was our escape near the hotel. One of the few places where we could eat a western breakfast. We love Chinese food, but not early in the morning.
Enjoying every minute of Beijing.
North east of the center of Beijing lies the 798 Art District. An amazing area with galleries, ateliers, restaurants and shops. Fantastic atmosphere. But again: huge. Couldn't see all of it in one day.
798 Art District
798 Art District
798 Art District
798 Art District
798 Art District
798 Art District
798 Art District
798 Art District
798 Art District
Hipster coffee....
My oh my, so much art!
798 Art District
798 Art District
798 Art District
Typical housing on the city fringes.
North west of the Forbidden City lies Hou Hai Lake. Nice for a stroll, but too many (Chinese) tourists.
Hutong walk
Hutong walk
Another marvel to visit: the Temple of Heaven. This is the Long Corridor.
Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests.
Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests.
Imperial Vault of Heaven.
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Temple of Heaven
Temple of Heaven
Temple of Heaven
Altar of Heaven. A huge stone terrace of three levels.
The inner walls are round, but the outer wall is square.
Obligatory....
Taxi ride to Rem Koolhaas and Ole Scheerens marvel: the CCTV Tower
Reflections of CCTV
The line patterns on the vast surface of the CCTV tower reflect the forces of gravity on the inner structure of the building; the more lines, the bigger the force.
Buying cherries (frightfully expensive in SIngapore)
Lost Heaven. A Shanghai favorite restaurant. Unfortunately, not exactly the same quality in Beijing.
Good atmosphere though.
Good atmosphere though.
Lypin Courtyard Hotel
Hutong walks
En route to the Summer Palace. The former home of empress Cixi. Fascinating lady, fascinating place.
Summer Palace
Suzhou Street in the Summer Palace complex is a shopping street built for the amusement of the Qiuanlong emperor and his entourage.
There are so many temples and halls here, we couldn't take it all in.
Summer Palace
Summer Palace
Temple of the Sea of Wisdom.
Summer Palace
Summer Palace
Other side of the hill: Lake Kunming.
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Foxiangge. Our guide book translated this into Tower of the Fragrance of the Buddha. The other translation is Tower of Buddist Incense. Rather more appealing.
Baoyun Pavilion.
Summer Palace
Summer Palace
Summer Palace
Summer Palace
Summer Palace
Summer Palace
Summer Palace
Summer Palace
Summer Palace
Summer Palace
Summer Palace
Summer Palace
Summer Palace
Street calligraphy with water. Amazing!
Street calligraphy with water. Amazing!
Street calligraphy with water. Amazing!
Spring Heralding Pavilion.
Summer Palace
Shiqikongqiau, 17 Arches Bridge.
On our way to the Olympic Stadium. Weird building.
The Beijing Olympic Stadium. They call it the Bird's Nest. It's a fascinating building by Herzog & de Meuron.
The Bird's Nest. Or Toilet Bowl, as Ai Wei Wei likes to call it. He collaborated with Herzog & de Meuron on the design of this building.
The Bird's Nest overview.
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We loved taking the subway. It's fast, cheap and reliable. Not as clean as in SIngapore, but then again, what is?!
Last evening in Beijing. We just started walking to find a nice place to eat. We can't remember the name of this place (or couldn't decipher it) but boy oh boy, the food was fantastic. Luckily, they had a picture menu....
Wudaoying Hutong is a nice hutong with shops and restaurants. A bit of a San Francisco vibe.
Lama Temple
Lama Temple
The Bell Tower
Lama Temple
Milefo (laughing Buddha) in the Hall of the Heavenly Kings.
Lama Temple
Lama Temple
Lama Temple
Lama Temple
Lama Temple
Lama Temple
Lama Temple
Youthful devotion
Lama Temple
70 monks still live in this complex. At one time, there were 1.500 monks inside the temple complex.
Lama Temple
Satisfied. What a great trip this was!
Last visit to the hutongs of Beijing
Last visit to the hutongs of Beijing
Queuing is as normal here as it is in Singapore. Means you can get the good stuff here.
Street stall
Bye Bye Beijing! We'll be back!
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by @edoch in Spain