Head Over Heels for Beijing

The last time I was here, we called this city Peking. At that time, there were far fewer cars and many more bikes. I miss the bicycles. Beijing has been modernised. The metro system works well and stops at Tiananmen Square. So, when you come up to street level, you find yourself looking right at the giant portrait of Mao.

I want to arrive at the Forbidden City as late as possible, when the light will be best for my photos. I hope to be the last visitor to get in so I can photograph an empty square. But I get stopped at the gate. I’m ten minutes too late! How stupid! I made a mistake about the visiting hours. Now the Forbidden City is forbidden to me. Too bad. But the red wall at the impressive front entrance continues to be beautiful. It reminds me of Bernardo Bertolucci’s Oscar-winning film “The Last Emperor,” when we see the young emperor Pu Yi (formally Ai xin jue luo) standing atop the great red wall and looking down at the life forbidden to him.

Couples in Love
The surroundings here are beautiful. I buy a ticket to the adjoining park in the hope of catching a different glimpse of the scene. In any case, I get to see a part of Beijing that I’ve never seen before and I imagine that many tourists simply miss this without knowing it. When I travel, I always do my best to get lost and find surprising, new places. Beautifully painted doors, lovely vistas, and I can enjoy the sight of couples in love in the park. So often, it’s the little things that create the beauty.

Silk Market
I take a few nice pictures as the sun sets and I leave this place the same way I came in — by metro. Using my ticket which cost me 30 euro cents (!) I pay a quick visit to the Silk Market where very little silk is sold, as far as I can tell. I buy some Chinese green tea and, after eating a Chinese dinner, I take the metro back to the hotel. Underground, over-ground, I’m head over heels for Beijing.