On our last day in Beijing, after spending the morning recovering from our hangovers at a tea house we took a quick trip to Tiananmen Square.
Despite it being a Monday, there was still a huge queue to get into the square. Guards were checking IDs at the gate with and ID scanner, and at first I thought I wasn’t going to get in as they can’t scan my passport with it.
For some reason I’ve been very un-British and never actually visited a single Tea House in China (despite having been here more than a year), but today it was time to break that streak.
After a good night out in Beijing were I lost my shoes, we decided to nurse our hangovers by drinking lots of tea. Being in Beijing, it was obvious we had to visit a tea house.
After leaving the Bird’s Nest we wandered over to the National Aquatics Center (a.k.a. the Water Cube). The events I focused on when making the official Olympics game were the Swimming and the Diving events, so I had spent more time working with the Water Cube than the other arenas. The Water Cube didn’t seem to be as much of a big deal as the National Stadium, but for me it was.
My very first job after university was as a Gameplay Programmer at Eurocom (which sadly closed down last year). The game I worked on was Beijing 2008 the official video game of the Beijing 2008 Olympics. I spent 2 years staring at virtual models of the Bird’s Nest and the Water Cube (we actually had the models before the buildings even existed!). I swore that one day I would see them for real.
Whilst in Beijing we visited the Forbidden City (紫禁城 or Zǐjinchéng). The Forbidden City was once the capital of China where the King/Emperor resided and is now probably the most popular tourist destination in Beijing if you exclude the Great Wall.
We went during the weekend of Labour Day so it was extraordinarily busy. As soon as we exited the subway at Tienanmen Square we we almost crushed by the crowd of people trying to get into the square.
The Beijing Temple of Confucius (北京孔庙 or Běijīng kǒngmiào) is the second largest Confucian Temple in China. 庙 (miào) also means shrine, so this place could be considered more of a shrine to Confucius and his teachings rather than an actual Temple.
The temple contains a few museums detailing in brief the history of Confucius, how he travelled China, spreading his ideas and teachings; and building schools.
Right next to the first hostel we stayed in Beijing was the Yonghegong (雍和宮 or Yōnghé gōng) – the largest Lama Temple in Beijing. 宮 (gōng) actually means palace – a reminder that this temple was once a palace that was eventually fully converted to a Lama Temple. It managed to survive the Cultural Revolution under the protection of Zhou Enlai so it is also the most well preserved temple in Beijing.
In Beijing, 涮羊肉 (shuàn yángròu) is a kind of sliced mutton hotpot which is as famous as Peking Duck. It consists of sliced mutton which is boiled in water and dipped into sesame sauce. We decided to go out of our way to try some when we were last in Beijing.
We went to a small place on Dongzhimen Inner Street – a place famous for street food.