Forbidden City, Beijing.
When you decide to travel to and through China, the places to go and the means of getting there are virtually endless. So I told my partner that I wanted to be very (very) conservative about the number of places we'd go see. There was some reluctance, I'm pretty sure, but it was going to be a holiday, not a marathon. As I'm virtually living out of a suitcase for work most of the time, when I'm on holiday I like to minimise the packing, unpacking, repacking and getting up very early for travel, as much as possible.
The primary reason for our visit to China instead of, say Japan (high on both our lists) was to visit two friends. One of our friends lives in Beijing, while the other one lived in Shanghai. Perfect to plan one or two excursions while traveling from one friend the the other.
For my partner it was the first time to visit China. I had been to Beijing (and some other cities in Greater China) before on a work mission. At that time I only had just about enough time to spend an hour or two in the Forbidden City, so I didn't mind going there again. All the additional sights would be a great addition to my first flash visit.
We hadn't booked any arranged tours in advance, nor when we got there. We figured we didn't really need a guide. Though a guide would explain more about the sights and sounds, we like to move at our own pace. We figured if we really want to know something we can always look it up afterwards. The (fair) amount of money we saved on organised tours, we spent on more comfortable travel options.
Strangely enough Beijing was the place where the language barrier was really slowing us down the most, even compared to the rural areas we visited later on. Wether it was the language barrier or the fact that moving around in Beijing is a slow affair to begin with, we didn't get to do some of the things we put on our 'let's go there'-list. Also reminding ourselves that a holiday is also to relax from our sometimes stressful day to day lives, was somethings that didn't inspire a sense of haste in us.
Including spending time with a dear friend, the main reason we were there in the first place, we visited the Forbidden City, a restored section of the Great Chinese Wall and the Lama Temple. Oh and we ate the BEST Peking Duck ever! I'd go back just for that dish in that restaurant!
Here are my impressions of the Forbidden City.