Beijing is a city of contrasts. It is a case study for the rapidly changing Chinese economy. The city is a collection of buildings that go on forever. Most of the buildings are uninspiring but the city itself is a fascinating place.
The main attractions, are of course sites like the Temple of Heaven, Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and the Great Wall. For some reason I did not find the Forbidden City that fascinating, yes it is absolutely massive in size, but for some reason it seemed like something was missing. It was like walking through a famous house that had no furniture.
Tiananmen Square was arguably a little more interesting. The large picture of Chairman Mao and the heavy presence of Chinese soldiers gives the area an indescribable feel. Politics aside, this place has a feel I don’t think you could find anywhere else. Red Square in Moscow might be somewhat comparable.
About an hour outside Beijing there are many different areas of the Great Wall to explore. We walked around the Badaling section. The mountains that morning had a nice dusting of snow which made the view from the top even more spectacular. The Great Wall does not disappoint. It is amazing to be able to take in that kind of history.
The Great Wall was built from the 5th century B.C. and the 1500’s. Countless laborers lost their lives and often were buried right in the walls foundation. I could not imagine having to work on the wall during the freezing Chinese winter, with little provisions. The wall itself is preserved in sections but in many areas is in utter ruin. Communities use the bricks as a source of stone for their own construction projects. It would be impossible to preserve the entire 8,851.8 km wall, but it is somewhat disturbing to see much of the wall in ruins.