I have a few notes that we made ourselves so as not to forget the highlights, so hopefully I won’t leave out anything crucial. I’m going to have to put the bits about restaurants that we ate at in a different post, because I can already tell this is going to be really long. We stayed in Beijing for eight nights, so had plenty of time to see the few things that we really cared about seeing and to relax and do nothing, which was sort of our first priority at the time. As I think I mentioned in a previous post, Beijing struck me as very Orwellian, but was still a good time. We stayed in a really nice hotel, which was especially appreciated since the city itself is not so nice that we really wanted to spend every waking moment out in it.

Pretty much the first place we went was the silk market, where I ordered several pieces of clothing to be made for me (the number of pieces increased the longer we hung out in there, since they have some really amazing silk fabrics!). I ended up leaving with two silk jackets (one hip-length and one nearly knee-length), a silk blouse (Chinese style, don’t really know how else to explain that), one qipao and three skirts. They’re really pretty awesome, although I did get some strange looks when I wore the bright-red knee-length jackets with gold embroidery all over it today. Confirming the popular opinion that I’m slight off, I guess. 🙂 It was sort of overwhelming at first since that was our first experience with really aggressive salespeople, but certainly not our last!

One of the really cool things about Beijing is the gardens — you have to pay to get in, but they’re really sprawling and beautiful. Our favorite was Beihai park, here’s a picture:

We also went to the Temple of Heaven park, which was not quite as amazing as Beihai in our opinion but also really nice. More sort of manicured (reminded me of an English garden that way) than Beihai. The coolest part of Temple of Heaven (besides the fact that I took a nap there for about an hour while Danny read, which was just a great example of how chill our trip was) was that there were several different random musicians playing in different parts of the park. They were playing traditional Chinese music, and it was one of those moments where we had to laugh because we kept exclaiming to each other how much like China the whole thing felt. Here’s a pictures of one of the (less gardeny, but still cool) parts of the park:

Of course, we also went to Tiananmen Square, Mao’s tomb and the Forbidden City. Of all of them, the Forbidden City was by far our favorite, although there is something really cool about standing in a place that you’ve seen on the news so many times, so Tiananmen Square was neat because of that. Here’s a picture from the Forbidden City: