|Meridian Gate (Wumen).
The emperor would pass through this gate when traveling to the courtyard.
The emperor was the only living person who could pass through the middle entrance.
|The beautiful man made river Jinshui He (Golden water stream) which runs through the centre of the City.
Five marble bridges cross it.
Its said that Chairman Mao in his later years, filled this pool with Naked young girls from all across China.
|After visiting the Forbidden city, most people visit Jingshan Imperial Garden.
Its a lovely park, and is famous for 2 things.
The hill in the centre, with spectacular views of Beijing (the hill is made from the soil leftover from the forbidden city moat).
The 2nd is a tree, where the last Ming emperor committed suicide in 1644.
|The suicide note on his lapel said:
“My own insufficient virtue and wretched nature has caused me to sin against heaven above. I die knowing I am wholly unworthy to stand before my sacred ancestors.”
“Let the rebels tear my miserable body to pieces but let them touch not a single hair on the head of the least of my subjects.”
Afterwards the tree was considered an accessory to the emperors death and was placed in irons.
|The Tiananman gate at the top of Tiananman square featuring the face of Mao Zedong (Chairman Mao).
At 400,000 square meters, is the largest public square on earth (bigger than Newton Heath where I grew up).
The idea was to create a place where people could congregate. That backfired on the government in 1989.
|Mao’s Memorial Hall (Mausoleum) in Tiananman Square.
The so called “chain smoking poet rebel”.
Born the Son of a wealthy farmer, the long march where 8000 men walked 10,000 kilometres in one year marked the peak of his military/leadership achievements.
His flaw, was said to be a need for constant revolution, and his incompetent agricultural policy is reckoned to have caused the deaths of 38 million Chinese.
Paranoid and eccentric towards the end, he is still revered by the common folk, who weep openly as they look at his embalmed body.
|The Chinese have gone Olympic crazy, and an Olympic countdown timer in the square shows the minutes, hours etc until the games begin. This display seemed to have a “Japanese” look to it.
While here I saw lads larking about, and a bottle accidentally dropped, break on the floor.
A young police officer barked orders at them and they stood bolt upright, the fear obvious on their faces.
I presume he ordered the broken glass to be placed in the bin, which they did. They returned to the police officer and waited nervously for him to let them go. After checking the pavement, he shouted at them for a few minutes and ordered them on their way.
A Chinese police officer can decide guilt and punishment for Crimes up to Rape and Murder on the spot. Most people seem more frightened of the Police, than they are of criminals.
|As I wandered around Tiananman square, I met lots of friendly people. This chap asked to be photographed with me.
Visiting Beijing for the first time, from his far away village, he had never met anyone with Blond hair.
They actually offered me money to be photographed. I know how hard they work for the bit of money they earn in this country and I obviously refused.
I had known it meant that much to them, I would have lost some weight for this picture :).
|The imposing Zhengyangmen (South) gate.
Once the gateway between the imperial city and the commoners outside. Its ironic really:
In the 1500’s there were the common people, and the godlike emperor and his dignitaries.
Today there are the common people, and the godlike party members and their assistants.
I can’t see the difference and wonder what the “revolution” was actually for (but then I would, I have always lived in a free country !)
|In the daytime, the square is packed.
Visiting it, the day after the 57th anniversary of the revolution didn’t help.
I came back in the evening when it was a little quieter, and was rewarded with this superb shot.
The whole square is lit up during the evening, and is a delight to see, but the Great Hall of the People, was easily the best.
|I contacted the downtown backpackers who I can completely recommend.Although I wasn’t staying with them, I asked if they had any trips organized to the great wall.
The were doing a day trip to Jinshanling and Simatai (walking between the 2). It was just the trip I was looking for, and only about £11.
We set off 7am in the morning. I was euphoric with enthusiasm.
Walking along the wall was the thing I had traveled all the way to China to do, and I had waited 30 years of my life to do it !.
|The pictures I have seen of the wall, show it shopping-street flat.
The reality is very different, it was very steep, and at some of the towers, you had to jump out of “windows” onto the wall bellow.
|Some of the towers were in very good condition.
My German friend David, told me that Drum and Base parties were quite common on some sections of the wall.
|Whilst walking, he realized although thousands of miles from home, a German girl in our party was the sister of his best friend.
I wont bother trying to calculate the odds of that happening, but its the kind of strange and exciting thing that happens when travelling.
|The rugged terrain all around the wall.
It was pointed out, that military value off the wall, was not just as a barrier.
Horsemen and Chariots could travel along the top of the wall much more quickly than raiders could trek through woodland and undergrowth.
This gave significant strategic advantage to people fighting from the wall.
|The Royal seal on one of the Bricks.
When some 1960’s buildings were knocked down recently, in anticipation of the Olympics, dozens of the bricks, contained this seal and must have been stolen from the wall.
|A view from one of the watchtower “windows” showing a section of the wall we had walked along.
The trip was made all the better by superb weather.
|Due to layout, certain sections of the wall, were vulnerable to archers.
Here a series of buildings along one side of the wall, provides protection from arrows and spears.
|The view from the wall, and the sheer length, of what you can see, let alone its total length, is staggering.|
|I had been told to prepare a packed lunch.
I couldn’t seem to find anywhere that sold sandwiches or anything like that.
I bought a Kentucky fried Chicken meal, kept it in my hotel fridge, and brought it along in a plastic bag.
|The final section of the wall, was a very steep downhill walk.There were several people selling cans, bottled water and t-shirts along the wall.
I was glad that I had visited the more authentic part of the wall.
Most people visit Badaling which is about 30 minutes from Beijing.
I was told that Badaling was completely rebuilt in 1957 and is a tourist circus.
|The Chain Bridge at Simatai.
It wobbled so much, I had to take 4 pictures before I got one that wasn’t blurred.
This was the end of the walk, and like climbing a peak and then walking back down a mountain, was a little sad.
|I went out for the evening, with the people I met while walking the wall.They were all staying at the downtown backpackers hostel and were a great bunch, who between them had travelled to nearly every part of the globe.
We had a sit down banquet in a private room, which the hardy travellers negotiated down to £3, including 2 bottles of beer each.
|After the meal we went for a drink in a few of the waterside bars next to Houhai Lake.
It was a pretty groovy place, and although I had been walking all day, I had a great time.
|We found a rooftop bar, and drank some Chinese beer.
Charlotte is Canadian and during the day, I had wondered for several hours, who she reminded me of.
In the end I realized it was Donna Moss from the West Wing.
|We rounded of the evening by visiting a Cafe/Bar called Salud in the Hutong next to the Downtown backpackers hostel.
It had a great atmosphere and the staff were friendly even though it was late. They played some great music, and actually put the TV on for a customer who wanted to watch football.
The customer (Chinese) had heard I was from Manchester, and immediately started to ask me about United. I hope he believed me when I told him I had no idea.
The picture on the wall, is of the proprietor as a child.
At the end of the night, the bill for 4 people drinking pints for 3 hours was £10 !.
|On the way home.
The story ends as it began, with me in Beijing airport at night.
As I wander around the airport waiting for my flight, I step onto an escalator, and see this sign in now familiar chinglish.
I remained alert, but the implied service was never offered !.