A Proper Winter Holiday in Beijing

Ross and I spent a week in Beijing, exploring its hutongs (narrow alleys, formed by courtyard residences) and seeing the abundant sights. Beijing really is a fascinating city, the traffic is unrelenting, and the modern and the ancient blends seamlessly. We rode the subway everywhere and were once again astonished at the sheer number of people. It was very cold while we were there, in the 20s most days, so it finally felt like a proper winter and Christmas time to us.

We started off our sightseeing at Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. The Forbidden City served as the Chinese imperial palace and the architecture is very impressive. It was fun to see what opulence the former emperors of China lived in.

Tian'an Gate

Mr. Mao

Palace Buildings

Hall of Supreme Harmony

Harmony Sculptures

Angry Turtle

Imperial Garden Pavilion

Chinese Roof Figures

Iced Moat

We also made a trip to the Beijing Zoo to catch a glimpse of the giant pandas. I have never seen a panda before and I have to say that they are about the cutest animals on the planet! We had fun running around the panda house trying to catch them playing about. We stayed out as long as the chilly weather would allow.

Walking Through

Panda Pair

Giant Panda

Lost in Thought

Why Hello

The Thinker

Tiger Stare

We also visited the Summer Palace, the summer getaway for many of China's past emperors. The natural landscape of hills and lakes combined with pavilions, halls, palaces, temples and bridges is a beautiful example of Chinese landscape and design.

Suzhou Market Street

Weepy Trees


Lake Front

Water and Ice

Golden Bridge

Ice Skatingish

We spent a very Merry Christmas hiking the Great Wall and were blown away with the sight.

It was a fun week and a great way for us to celebrate the holidays.

Some Fun Observations about China:
1. Chinese people spit A LOT, it is very common to hear people hawking and spitting all day long, in the street, shops, supermarkets, and on buses and trains.
2. Chinese people will eat anything! All kinds and parts of animals are available on menus. Ross and I had some great meals but had our fill of dumplings and noodles and got pretty excited to find a Subway where we could share a good old turkey sandwich and a cookie!
3. The fingernails... similar to Vietnam the men like to grow long them long in China, mostly on the pinky finger
4. Smoking, almost everywhere, non-smoking areas don't seem to exist, even when there are signs, which brings me to #5
5. General disregard of regulations and laws, there are lots of signs and warnings but people seem to do what they please with no consequence
6. "Me First" the people push, shove, and cut in line (if you are lucky enough to actually have a line) like it is no big thing, it seems rude to us, but it is how the people function. Getting on and off the subway Ross and I would just stand back in awe as people pushed their way through.
7. Although the people seemed quite aggressive to us we noticed that they would politely give their bus/train seats up for children and the elderly and several times offered seats to me. They were very kind and patient with us, which with the language barrier was invaluable.
8. Personal space is a luxury the Chinese are not afforded. The people are unphased by having to share very close quarters with others, something I think Ross and I are getting more comfortable with ourselves as we continue to travel.

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