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9/25/2006 - my first day of free excursion in Beijing. After packing up my 5 star hotel room and eating a last breakfast at the hotel, I left for the train station intent on finding the hostel in which I had a reservation. It took a while to find, but after finding it, I found it to be crowded and full of only foreigners. A lady outside offered to take me to a 2 star hotel for less than 1/3 the price of the hostel and I took her up on her offer. I had originally misunderstood and thought the hotel was just around the corner. When she shove me into a small van with a mean looking driver, I felt a little doubtful. On the way there, I suggested that this was a misunderstanding because I wanted to be close to the train station for sight seeing purposes. Very helpfully and friendly, they asked about my plans and told me exactly which bus to take from the hotel to all the places I named. I was impressed... After settling in and getting oriented, I took the subway back to Tiananmen Square and walked around the Forbidden City (紫禁城), through Beihai Park (北海湖), several Hutong (衚衕) areas, the Qianhai and Houhai area, through the Beijing Drum and Bell Towers (鐘樓和鼓樓), along several streets with vendors selling many interesting foods, took the subway from the Andingmen Dongdajie subway (安定門東街) back to the Tiananmen area, walked around Tiananmen area in the night, and finally took a bus back to my hotel. The 2 star hotel is ok for a single traveller like me. If I had brought Grace along - that'd have been a very different matter....

Famous Mao portrait at Tiananmen Sq
Moat around Forbidden City #1
Moat around Forbidden City #2
From Jingshan Park (京山公園) overlooking Forbidden City (the top of the hill was closed, so I couldn't get the great panaromatic shot I had intended when I shilled out the $10 or so renmingbi to enter the park).
From Jingshan Park overlooking Forbidden City #2
From Jingshan Park overlooking Forbidden City #3
From Jingshan Park overlooking northeast section of city
From Jingshan Park overlooking Beihai #1
From Jingshan Park overlooking Beihai #2
From Jingshan Park overlooking Beihai #3
Beihei
Overlooking the White Dagoba - built in honor of a Dalai Lama visit in 1741.
A temple in Beihei Park
A canal in the Qinhai section
Drum Tower
Bell Tower
Tiananmen Sq at night #1
Tiananmen Sq at night #2
Tiananmen Sq at night #3
Tiananmen Sq at night #4
Tiananmen Sq at night #5
Tiananmen Sq at night #6
Tiananmen Sq at night #7
Tiananmen Sq at night #8
Tiananmen Sq at night #9
Tiananmen Sq at night #10

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