Day 4 – Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Hutong, Olympic Park

This was probably one of the most exhausting days on the trip.  First of all, the complex that holds Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City is HUGE!  I felt that we did not spend much time here, other than simply walking through, but I think it would literally take a full day (or more) to truly explore the Forbidden City.  As a person who grew up in the 80s, a certain video from Tiananmen Square is permanently etched in my memory.  The moment we stood in the square, I had a very strange, monumental feeling come over me.  I could just feel the “weight” of this historical place.  That feeling stayed with me as we explored the Forbidden City that day.

Tiananmen Square was probably the only place that I truly felt that I was in a Communist country.  There were cameras and surveillance equipment everywhere.  We were also warned before we got of the bus, that we would NOT be discussing anything political outside of the bus that day.  In the middle of Tiananmen Square is the Mausoleum of Chairman Mao.  While that was not really featured on our tour, it was impossible not to notice the huge crowds of people gathering to enter to pay their respects (many bringing yellow flowers).  The military has a flag station near the entrance to the Forbidden City manned by soldiers from each of the branches of military.  And soldiers and police were patrolling all over.  Again, this was the one place on our whole trip that the Communist influence was the strongest.

The Forbidden City was absolutely breathtaking!  The day was a bit gloomy, but there were still large crowds.  We walked through the entire complex and got a good overview of the area.  However, I feel that this was the one place in which I would have really liked to spend more time.  There was so much to see and I feel that we missed a lot of the details.  I know that we had many things on our agenda and that others may have been satisfied with the time spent here, but I personally will plan a day or two at the Forbidden City if I ever get to return to Beijing.  (And I will rewatch The Last Emperor before I go!)

After the Forbidden City, we had a nice vegetarian lunch.  Then we took off for the Hutong Tour.  Thankfully, most of the tour was by Rickshaw so we did not have to walk!  We did go into a residence that is open to the public to demonstrate the basic living conditions in the Hutong.  By this time, the temperature was dropping and the weather was not cooperating with us.  We had one last stop at the Olympic Park.  Several people, including my son opted to stay inside the bus here.  I considered the option, but really needed to find a restroom.  After a significant walk, I did find a restroom and started to follow our group to the Bird’s Nest, but the wind was very strong and cold.  I gave up and waited for our group in the designated waiting area and had a nice hot chocolate and did some souvenir shopping for Christmas gifts.

Since we had walked 5.44 miles that day in the cold, we opted again to eat some food from the convenience store in the Penta Hotel lobby.  We ate a bit and prepared our bags for the trip to Shanghai the next day.

Introduction to VIPKid Field Trip (November 2019)

Arrival in Beijing

Day One – Beijing – The Great Wall and the Golden Mask Dynasty

Day Two – Beijing (Summer Palace, VIPKid Headquarters, The Legend of Kung Fu)

Day Three – Beijing (Temple of Heaven, Tea Ceremony, Pearl Market, Peking Duck)

Day Four – Beijing (Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Hutong, Olympic Park)

Day Five – Bullet Train from Beijing to Shanghai

Day Six – Shanghai (Disneyland and VIPKid Meetup)

Day Seven – Shanghai (Bund, Yu Garden Shopping, Zhujiajiao River City)

Day Eight – On our own in Shanghai


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