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Beijing - Day 3

CHINA | Monday, 17 December 2007 | Views [391] | Comments [4]

Today was Day of the Duck!! But first, Harry picked me up and we braved the maddening traffic to the Forbidden City. Once the majestic home to the great emporers, this place certainly is fit for a king. Centuries old and fortified by a surrounding moat, each part of the City is a glorious memorial to power, wealth and concubines. At least they looked after their women well. Harry actually accompanied me this time and he was invaluable in giving me a personal history lesson of this vast complex.  Its huge!! Some buildings were undergoing repair and maintenance for the 2008 Olympics (actually a lot of Beijing is being spruced up for the main event) but that didn't detract from the sheer impact this place has on anyone not accustomed to more than 200 years of colonial history. We walked and walked, jostled with loads of tourists, and walked some more. After stopping for my first coffee in days at a small tourist cafe, we zinged out of there with an appetite for Beijing Duck.

Harry went to a lot of trouble to satisfy me, ringing friends for advice, battling the traffic, taking the parking attendant for a ride until we found a parking space near the famous Beijing Quanjude Wangfujing Roast Duck Restaurant.  I felt like an emporer myself, but depsite my protestations, Harry wouldn't join me for the feast. So I went it alone - and yes Dan, I wish you were there. Once again I can't show any pictures on this Chinese hotel computer, but you'll see a pic of the spread soon. It included the carvery waiter slicing it up personally, and a brief history lesson and display of appropriate etiquette by the waitress. It was all served in one course and went down well with a bottle of Chinese beer - oh well, so much for the etiquette, hehe.  But it was delicious and definitely fit for a king. Harry waited patiently while I stuffed myself, and then we headed out back through the traffic mayhem.

Despite feeling like an afternoon siesta, we went to the Holy Temple of Good Harvest, another beautiful example of ancient Chinese architecture built on a grand scale. It was the place the Emporer went to pray to the weather gods for a bountiful harvest year.  Like the Forbidden City, it has so many individual temples and buildings its hard to describe it all.  But this temple looked freshly painted with magnificent blues and golds of elaborate dragons, phoenixes and lions - just beautiful. The weather gods should have looked kindly on these people if only for the amazing art and stone work. I walked (alone this time) for an hour before my legs decided they'd had enough, and timed it perfectly for Harry to pick me up out front.

So it was with a sad note that I had to bid Harry goodbye when he dropped me back at the hotel, as I board the train for Ulaan Baator first thing tomorrow morning. We became quite good friends and I left a small gift for him and his 3 year old son (they love our little koalas, even the souvenir type). I'll probably walk around the streets for a while tonight to savour the bustling atmosphere before bidding farewell to Beijing. Good luck in 2008 Beijing!

Tags: Sightseeing



hmmmm duck hmmmm

  Dan Dec 17, 2007 9:12 PM


what a cool day...wow...all the things ur seeing and tasting :)I had a look at the weather forcast there for the week....a beautiful minus 5 degrees :P

  Chris Dec 17, 2007 11:03 PM


Howdy Mate. Just read up on your travels thus far (the Beijing bit anyway. I envy you with your trip to the wall and the temple, not to mention the Forbidden City. Very cool! Hope you managed to take delivery of at least one of the mobile phone thingies you had on order prior to leaving. Keep up the warrior spirit and stay totally in the moment. Looking forward to more rundowns on different parts of the world. All the best mate and stay warm! :)

  Stevo Dec 19, 2007 12:27 PM


Wow, Matt, you should b a travel writer! I wonder how long you'll keep writing so extensively. We're really enjoying the journey with you. Thank god we can't feel the cold!! Stay safe and keep enjoying. A/Barb xx

  Barb and Randy Dec 19, 2007 10:21 PM

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