From the hotel door, through the hutong, then the commercial district, to Tiananmen Square, I marched right up to Mao Zedong's fresh mural and snapped a picture of the 2 of us. Then got shoved aside. I'd had my chance. More than just a few others want the same photo. Not much point in acting tough in front of the world's largest population. Especially now that Jet Li is Fearless!
Even on a weekday, it seems like the whole world wants to go through the Gate of Heavenly Peace. There's a pair of stone lions here that didn't manage to keep the peace so well - one has a bullet wound in his belly.
Visiting the Forbidden City, yes that's right it's no longer forbidden, they should change the name to The Unforbidden City or something like that. Both the Ming and the Qing dynasties of emporers hung out here most of their entire lives. I must say that I am impressed at the shear size of the place. In fact it's so big at the Meridian Gate, that it's impossible to stitch just one row of photos together into a panorama.
After taking too many photos, my camera battery died just on closing time. Two kindergarten teachers walked me to the camera shop and got the standard discount for me. In a Chinese style tea ceremony, we tried half a dozen different teas. Next door the ladies showed me through a big Chinese herbal medicine shop - I didn't realise until I checked later, that it is the famous Beijing Tong Ren Tang Pharmacy (from 1669 A.D.) - the remedies inside were being sold by the gram!