Published: October 5th 2007September 22nd 2007
Today is the first day of our Chinese tour. After breakfast we met with our Chinese guide and the rest of the tour group. It was a surprise to find out that the tour group comprised of one couple from Canada, us from Australia and the rest from USA. On our European tour there was one Canadian couple, one American Couple and 80% of the rest Australians.
The tour guide, Barbara, is a Chinese lady from Beijing. At first impressions she doesn’t appear to be a knowledgeable as our European tour guide, but I guess she has a lot less experience, we will have to see. The tour in China will be broken into three stages with a different local guide in each stage. Our first stage in Beijing for three nights, and our tour guide is Tony.
We started the day with a trip to Tiananmen Square. Tiananmen Square is the largest city square in China, and the world according to Tony. The square is huge, apparently over a million people can crowd onto the square during state celebrations, or half a million big noses (Europeans)! Part of the square was being decorated with floral arrangements in preparation
for a state celebration. The square backs onto the Imperial City which contains the Forbidden City.
The entrance to the Imperial City holds a massive painting of Mao Tze Tung next to a grandstand build into the city walls. Tony fitted us with head sets and we waded through the crowds to our tour group photo on the square. It was pretty nuts to think that we were on the site of the Tiananmen Massacre that happened about fifteen years ago. We tried to ask the tour guide about was happened but he changed the subject real quick - it probably wasn’t the best place to ask and he must have been freaking about government agents.
After the square we entered the Imperial City which was where the Imperial officers worked until from the 1400‘s till the early 1900‘s. A lot of the buildings were being restored in preparation for the tourists during the Olympics. We quickly moved through the city - pushing past hawkers and onto the Forbidden City.
The Forbidden City was the royal palace for the Emperor and his concubines. The building contains over 8000 rooms. It’s a shame the palace was ransacked after
the revolution, but it looks like the Chinese government is looking after it now. Its amazing what the tourist dollar can do! The palace is quite impressive, it’s a shame we were pretty rushed and only managed to check out several buildings.
After our Chinese banquet lunch we headed to the summer palace of the Emperors. The palace is built on the edge of a man made lake a couple of kilometres from the forbidden city. We caught a decorated ferry over to the palace where we walked through the imperial gardens and a painted walkway built to remind the emperors of the picturesque southern china provinces.
That night we celebrated the first day of our tour with a Peking Duck dinner. The other tour members are very friendly and we are looking forward to spending the next eight days getting to know them better.
There are more photos below