We left Istanbul via Emirates Airlines en route to Beijing with a stopover in Dubai. Emirates is a truly amazing airline, offering top notch service and amenities to its customers. On our flight to Dubai, we had an advanced TV system that included more than 500 TV shows, movies, video games and other forms of entertainment. Pretty awesome. On our flight to Beijing, the system was a bit more limited, but we were still given several video and audio channels. Additionally, since this flight was overnight, they gave us a nice overnight pack with socks, a toothbrush, blindfold, etc. When we arrived in Beijing, we walked right through customs pretty quickly, and were in our hotel shortly after (roughly 40 minutes from the airport). We both immediately grabbed some sleep and awoke the next morning for some exploring.
Our first stop was the Temple of Heaven, part of a large park roughly 20 minutes from our hotel. This was the place where the Emperors would come to worship. Here's a few photos:
On our way around the park, we saw a group of pre-teens and teens who were cheering for a Chinese pop star as part of commercial for TV. What was weird was this one random caucasion guy right in the center of the chinese teens. Needless to say, it served as a good laugh:
Our next stop was Tiannamen Square. This was beyond belief. The space is enormous and seemed to go on forever (think Washington Monument Plaza times ten). There were several statues representing communist values, glorifying the worker, on display. Here's some photos:
At the square, we ran into a couple of Chinese students learning English in the university. They escorted us around the square and to the Forbidden City, where they took us to an Art Exhibition. In there, we saw some magnificent works on rice paper and on canvas. I picked up one painting on rice paper depicting the game of 'Go' being played by two elders.
After that, we grabbed a quick lunch at a local Chinese restaurant, before heading into the Forbidden City. The Forbidden City is another huge facility, housing the emperors during the Ming and Qing dynasties in a one million square meter space (almost 11 million square feet). It's too difficult to describe without photos, so here ya go:
We finished up the Forbidden City around 6pm and headed back to the hotel. After a short rest, we grabbed dinner at a local place (American food, shockingly) and went back to bed...
The next day, we woke late and tried to get on a bus to the Great Wall, only to find out that we missed the last bus of the morning. We decided to walk around the city, head to the Pearl Market and see local life. The merchants were very pushy, holding our hands and forcing us to see their merchandise. It was a strong contrast to the markets in Morocco, where the merchants were verbally pushy, but not physical. We did manage to buy Beijing Olympic 2008 hats (also a Nutrilite ad from the subway and a photo of Pearl Market):
For dinner, we went to a Japanese restaurant. Check out this awesome tuna roll: