In addition to reading these blog posts, scroll down and click the link to my Vlog on YouTube. Each video episode is short, easy to watch and will make you feel like you are there with us on our journey. Have fun watching and reading!
Travel Blog - Day 2 - Beijing, China Hutongs, Tiananmen Square and The Forbidden City
We found a great place to stay that was situated in the heart of the ancient hutongs called the Yue Xuan Courtyard International Youth Hostel. Short of staying with another family in their home, the hostel was the best way that we could experience life in the Hutongs. It worked out wonderfully!
Hutongs appeared during China’s dynastic period when traditional courtyard residences called siheyuan were built. As the residences were joined together to form neighborhoods, they created these unique alleyways or Hutongs. The Hutongs were then joined together to form larger communities throughout the ages. Today both the alleyways and communities are referred to as Hutongs. During the mid 20th century, many Hutongs in Beijing were destroyed to make way for modern buildings. However, the Hutongs that remain are now protected in order to preserve this unique part of Chinese culture. We feel very fortunate to have been able to stay a few nights in one of these famous and historical Hutongs.
Be sure to check out our vlog where we give you a tour of the Hutong area and the small community where we stayed. You're not going to want to miss that episode!
Tiananmen Square 天安门广场 and the Forbidden City 故宫博物院
Day 2 was an exhausting, but a fun filled day of walking 25,000 steps through bustling streets and crowded subways in Beijing.
We minded the gap and hopped onto the Subway station at Dong Xi Di Tie Zhan 东西地铁站. We then rode over to the stop at Tiananmen Square (for a subway map, check out explorebj.com's subway map online). At Tiananmen Square, we were greeted with a security line and people just about everywhere. It was spectacular to see that many people flock to one area of the city. Tiananmen Square is well known around the world for the June Fourth Incident that took place there. Do a quick Google search if you want to learn more about this historical event.
The square is quite impressive and is the perfect vantage point for taking pictures of Chairman Mao’s portrait that proudly hangs across the street in the center of the Meridian Gate 午门. This gate is the formal entrance to the Forbidden City and was completed in 1420 during the Ming dynasty. It was at this gate that the emperor presided over the ceremony to accept prisoners of war after greeting his imperial army upon their victorious return from battle.
After buying our tickets and doing some vlogging at the front of the Meridian Gate, we entered the Forbidden City. As we walked through the tunnel, we could see how magnificently huge each of the squares were in front of each hall as they unfolded before our eyes.
As I stood in front of the Hall of Supreme Harmony, I could envision being in the crowd as the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties held their grand ceremonies. That must have been an incredible sight! Those ceremonies included weddings, enthronements and the dispatch of generals to war. The architecture and symmetrical layout of this area was also quite impressive. Every staircase, building, door, etc had a purpose and had a symmetry that is unmatched in any world architecture that exists today.
As we walked through the rest of the forbidden city, we learned that there are 9,999 rooms within the 10 meter high, watchtower walls and that the entire grounds cover 720,000 square meters (27,878,400 square feet). This area would be equivalent to 484 American football fields! Wow.
After exiting through the gate of Devine prowess on the very far North side, we turned to the East and walked to the famous shopping area on Wangfujing street. This modern street with stores like Rolex, Under Armor, and H&M was a stark contrast to the amazingly historical nature of the Forbidden City (a.k.a. The Palace Museum). There we found a mall and a small Thai restaurant where we enjoyed Pad Thai, Curries and Chicken Satay.
The exotic food market next to Wangfujing, one of the most famous shopping streets in Beijing
Ok. You've now read the blog post for Day 2 - Beijing, China Hutongs, Tiananmen Square and The Forbidden City and I hope that the resources provided above will help you plan your next trip to China. Now go take a look at our short Vlog on YouTube to see first hand, how our Day 2 transpired.
You can also continue reading our Day 3 blog post here.