A long Lucky, Ducky DaySeptember 21, 2019 in China ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C
So we jumped into Yang’s car at Beijing Station at 3pm and Ben gave us some important information about our afternoon City Tour straight away. Two of the main attractions, Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City were to be closed from tomorrow for 11 days so today was our only chance to see them!
The reason for the closure of these areas is rehearsals will be taking place for the big parade to be held on 1st October to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China.
We were very lucky to have the chance to see these places, however last entry into the Forbidden City is 4pm and you have to be out by 5pm. There was obviously no time to check into our hotel we just needed to get a shift on despite having just come off the back of a 31 hour train journey.
Now came another surprise. Ben told us that although we had been due to stay at the Kapok Hotel right in the City Centre near the Forbidden City (which had been booked at least 6 months ago), because of traffic restrictions caused by the Anniversary celebrations our booking had been transferred to another hotel (the Citadines) 3.5 miles further out from the centre.
This caused much jumping up and down and whinging from us about our disadvantaged location and wasted pre trip research but Ben kept calm and told us that it’s not like the UK and if the government say something must be done then it has to happen. We have subsequently learned that all the hotels close to Tiananmen Square are having to ship out foreign tourists for two days (Saturday and Sunday) in part to stop them taking photos of the parade rehearsals. Quite bizarre really.
Anyway this couldn’t allow us to be diverted from our high speed, race against the clock, sightseeing Tour. Our first stop was the vast Tiananmen Square, the biggest Square in the World. It is mighty impressive with iconic buildings flanking it’s sides, Mao Tse Tung’s Mausoleum and The Great Hall of the People being the two best known.
Then it was a quick dash to the Forbidden City (arriving 10 minutes before last entry) which was the work place and home for Chinese Emperors over the Centuries until their removal during the revolution of the early 1900’s. It is a huge site filled with Palaces of different meanings and functions. Despite the time constriction we had a good look round and then walked to a nearby hill to look down on the Forbidden City and really grasp the scale of the complex.
We then checked into our ‘new’ hotel and to cut a long story short we have calmed down in our objections. The bottom line is that our new hotel is fine and the rooms are very well appointed (breakfast is top class too). We also know that all the reasons behind our hotel switch are absolutely true and that our UK Agent also only found out about the change yesterday.
We realised how very lucky we were because if we had arrived in Beijing a day later on our schedule we would have missed these two top iconic sights which would have been a disaster.
Tonight we wanted to visit a particular recommended restaurant named Siji Minfu for Peking Duck. Now this would have been a 7 minute stroll from our original hotel, but a look at the map showed that it would be nearly an hour walk from our new location. With the help of reception we got a cab which arrived there in less than 15 minutes. We had read there is usually a big queue for tables (this was correct!) and when we got there at 8pm we were told it would be an hour and a half wait. They gave us a ticket with our queue number and we headed about 100 yards to the bar of the Crowne Plaza Hotel for an hour (regular street bars don’t seem to exist here) before returning to Siji Minfu and waiting just 10 minutes for our table. It was worth the hassle. After a prawn starter our duck was carved in front of us and melted in the mouth. As per usual we were the last people left in the restaurant and paid the bill as the chairs were being piled on tables and the kitchen staff were leaving the building. It was then a taxi back and in the room by 11pm.
It has been one hell of a 24 hours for us since entering China but after some ups and downs we ended on a high and are looking forward to another trip highlight tomorrow, The Great Wall.Read more