It’s been over 10 years since the last time I was in Beijing and I was really keen to see and experience Beijing from a foreigners perspective rather than traveling within the comfort of a tour group. In just over 24 hours, I miss the efficientcy, comfort and familiarities of Singapore! I knew Beijing was crowded but here’s a snap shot of the subway at 11 am on a Sunday – where the heck is everyone going? We stayed near the technology district which meant we needed to switch trains 3 times before reaching the entrance of Tiananman West entrance.
After exiting we walked 100 meters only to be confronted by another queue – security checkpoint to enter the forbidden city. Once past that, another security gate (in case they missed anything in the first one) then another queue for buying a ticket then another queue to get inside. Whew! By the time we got inside the forbidden city we were exhausted! It was really different than how I remember on the tour where we strolled right in through another entrance with tickets already in hand, by I guess that’s why you pay more.
My tip: don’t pay for the audio guides. They are cheesy and supposed to be gps triggered but in actuality we got discriptions for rooms and Temples which were incorrect as compared to the signs. Despite this – I was again blown away by the sheer size of the complex and it took us a good 3-4 hours to walk around and view all the different areas.
As much as the buildings and Temples were a site to see – so was people watching. I found that there were not so many foreigners – I maybe saw one or two tour groups. The rest must have been visitors from other Chinese providences – further enforcing the fact that China is massive. I can understand why now they are considered a bit closed off from the rest of the world in adopting western culture – there simply is no need to since they have so many people!