A 30-hour train ride into Communist China may sound forbidding, but in reality our private 1st class cabin was more luxurious than any in Europe. We were provided embroidered linens, hot tea in our compartment at all times, & terry cloth slippers to take with us when we left. We even had a digital display over the door giving us the time, temperature & station information in both Chinese and English. We'd never seen that in Europe.

On our first morning in Beijing we set out early for the Forbidden City. Between our hotel and the bus stop, we had an uncomfortable encounter with the commuters. Yes they're really coming right at us! Early morning rush hour was quite a dangerous time on the street where we lived! The blue wall partitioned off a construction site and we couldn't cross the road because of all the buses. So we were forced to walk against the on coming bicycle traffic, which is far more "dangerous" than cars.
This beautiful pagoda is located in Jingshan Park, directly across the street from the Forbidden City, and was originally a part of it. The pagoda and a Buddhist Temple sit high on a hill affording a wonderful view of all the buildings & grounds of the Forbidden City.

Just to the west is Beihai Park, also formerly a part of the Forbidden City and its royal gardens. The central island, shown here, holds the White Pagoda, tallest temple in the city.

This magnificent Pentagonal Pagoda is located in the Gardens of the Summer Palace, residence of the emperor until 1911.

Here's Fred right in the heart of the Forbidden City, where we were surprised to find a Starbucks. They still treat you like an emperor on a cold afternoon. If you want to see our 100+ photos of all the buildings and architectural features inside the Forbidden City, you'll have to order our book, (available Fall 2001) and a screen saver of just this site! (available now by email.)
Click here if you would like to order our ScreenSaver or our Book.
Fred & Melody Squires
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