So it begins!
The background's the key thing here.
Our lucky room number at the Double Happiness Courtyard Hotel
Here's the courtyard, in fact. I wouldn't rate this the ultimate hotel (the long walk down the hutong gets a little old), but it was a different place to stay in Beijing.
Some interesting decorations adorn the walls of the hotel.
Time flies when you're talking about nuclear bombs.
A compact but great breakfast buffet (there's actually a fair bit more behind me).
Eggs, if you dare.
The hutong (alleyway) to the hotel.
At the end of the street there was a cool little pet stand.
On some roofs there were gourds growing.
Gotta get your beehive cement
There are some shots that Cathy was taking for an article. This is of a subway area, admittedly a boring one, but the subways were wonderful (and cheap).
Shopping area? Beats me. Impressive, though!
The sheer size of some of the buildings in Beijing is astounding.
Birth of Chinese Communism monument.
North end of the Forbidden City. Which, unfortunately, was forbidden to us this day - the guidebook was dated, saying you could enter the north. That's changed, it's now only the south.
There's a lovely park north of the Forbidden City, though, with some great views.
View from the hill in Jingshan Park. I like to think this was entirely fog.
The building details were great. Prepare yourself for a number of these types of photos...
Rock getting moved into place on the hill by a lot of winchwork.
Same building as before, the art museum (we never did find time to visit it), with less haze. So, maybe it was all fog!
An interesting t-shirt for a woman to wear. It says "sleep", not "Keep".
But, as Cathy notes, what do you push on if you want to treat the hand itself?
"Photocopies of originals" - how does that work, again? I feel I've entered a copyright-free zone. That said, this bookstore, a mile SE of the Forbidden City, had an incredible and huge number of volumes. I've never seen whole *bookcases* dedicated to obscure subjects like "metallurgy".
Graphics books! GPU Gems next to World of Warcraft add-ons is an interesting mix.
A kung-fu show for the tourists (worth missing). The building's lighting was wonderful, though. Building lighting in Beijing and Shanghai is totally fun (don't think of the carbon footprint; US citizens have a much larger per capita cost).
On the way to The Great Wall. This highway construction was parallel processing in action: the scaffolding went on for miles, no kidding. Unlike the U.S., where one group would linearly work its way down the road, here the whole thing goes up quickly as labor's thrown at it (labor is cheap).
Cooling our heels at the Great Wall entrance.
This part of the Great Wall is quite far from Beijing, so less touristed. No one we spoke to later had ever heard of it.
"... and I have bought the sweatshirt" - it was cold, so a number of people snapped up outerwear before heading out.
Being wimps, we pay our $8 for the ride up and back, vs. hiking up.
Now you see why we paid - this is just a small part of the way up.
In this area people farmed even the tiniest pieces of land, planting corn.
One part of the wall, stretching off into the distance. See the panorama at http://photosynth.net/view.aspx?cid=05a131f4-3ddd-4c91-85e2-bf89e15c8f7a
An advantage of being far from Beijing is very few tourists. Yes, this part of the wall is open.
This picture is worth $0.80
The Great Wall (which is actually a series of walls along its length), with some civilization in the distance.
Some of this wall was quite steep (much worse than this), and in some places quite broken down (which was cool to see but hard to climb). Exhausting work!
The modern construction in the area was also impressive.
Sadly blurry. We never did figure out how the split pants worked for little kids and their parents.
Entrance to the Forbidden City, on a lovely sunny day after a rainy one.
The riot police were having a demonstration, showing what they do during a (wait for it) demonstration.
The lion has eyes for the one on the right.
OK, last one, I promise.
Even the steps were works of art.
There was once gold plating over the whole surface, then the imperialists arrived.
Feng shui says that the bolts on the door should be an odd times odd number. So this one's 9 across by 9 high, for example.
Lots of places to hang out on thrones.
A clockwork machine, I believe he signed his name.
A clock driven entirely by gravity, slowly rolling down the slope.
He's not snowboarding. I never did master this sort of bathroom stall.
An urn with its gold intact. Panorama here: http://photosynth.net/view.aspx?cid=36de8a97-fc59-4eb5-9fbd-c24c5f101b53
Reminds me of Mayans, for some reason.
Gold toothpick and earpick.
I don't recall what this was about. Looks cool, though.
Some carvings were an insane amount of work.
In the back areas of the Forbidden City. We spent the whole day and saw maybe half of it. It's like 15 museums in a single place, and those are mostly a sidelight to the structures themselves.
Backgammon, in some form.
Fun little set of polyhedra.
Nearing the end
Concert hall to SW of Forbidden City. As usual, incredibly large.
Our decked-out wedding suite at the Double Happiness.
I realized that, even without a printer or an internet connection for my phone, I could take pictures of maps for where we were going.
Also handy, photograph the Chinese so you can ask people where it is.
An incredible spread at a well-hidden restaurant, all for $16. This was just the beginning, things kept coming.
At the night market. Yes, that's a seahorse. No, we did not try it.
Pupae & scorpions, two great tastes together again.
Don't forget to get a centipede so you can get your daily quota of legs.
The night market.
I thought it was a typo. No.
Still bothered by daily life? What is real happiness of the life?
The Temple of Heaven park is great on a weekend morning, with lots of people doing lots of stuff. This adult playground was quite extensive, and there were some extremely fit seniors. Note in general there are very few overweight Chinese in any pictures; in general they're in much better shape. Panorama here: http://photosynth.net/view.aspx?cid=24690eac-7489-4b29-b5bd-75b3a264c781
Lots of people play Mahjong and Chinese Chess.
Patriotic songs, with people singing along
Some people sold crafts.
We heard "crack, crack" in the distance. I thought it might be fireworks. No, just two women cracking whips. What?
Here's one of the women (the whip's a bit behind her)
Lots of people playing instruments and singing.
Hard to tell, but matchmaking was going on around here, with parents putting out posters of information.
One last visit to the adult playground before we leave.
An actual phone booth, and one for the handicapped.
A little act by two blind people, asking for money.
A brand that will never make it in America. Say it out loud.
Little string of kites for sale.
A lovely tree-lined street.
A flood of tourists passed by in pedicabs, an almost continuous stream.
One goal reached, Houhai lake.
It eventually dawns on us why we see a lot of Pekinese dogs in Beijing.
That blue wagon is a mobile, compact bicycle repair shop.
Kawaii! Oh, wait, that's the Japanese word. Cute!
And we saw these all around this area.
Ears + Mario
It's not just fresh, it's clown fresh!
Aha, this is where you press to treat hand problems.
Just a typical street.
Ducks are ready for eating!
Great place for Peking Duck.
Quick, what is it?
The server was a surgeon, quite skilled. So tasty! (Not the head) And that ends our trip to Beijing.