On My Own!

After my tour, I decided to venture out and head out to Tiananmen Square. It was only about a 5-10 minute walk from my hostel. I was walking around the square taking pictures, when this woman walks up to me. She was doing all these camera-taking gestures. I guessed she wanted me to take their picture, so I was confused when they didn’t hand me the camera… Haha she just wanted her picture with me.

Tiananmen Square

The south side of Tiananmen Square.

Walking to the other end of Tiananmen Square… This is one MASSIVE square!

The north side of Tiananmen Square looking at the Forbidden City across the street.

The north side of Tiananmen Square looking from the Forbidden City to the center of the square at the panoramic screens showing scenes of China.

I kept walking and headed towards the Forbidden City. I was too late to go in the Forbidden City because it’s gates close at 4:30! Really?! As I was walking, a young woman stopped me to talk. She seemed really nice and then asked me to go to coffee with her friend. For some reason or another, I had a bad feeling and declined. She didn’t seem to happy about that. Sorry. Then I ran into another girl. She’s an art student here in Beijing and her school is holding an art exhibition right near the Forbidden City. She invited me in to look at some paintings. She is a great saleswoman! I bought one of her paintings for 200 RMB (about $30). Then she tried getting me to buy one of her professor’s paintings for 400 RMB. I said no and that I didn’t have that much money. She insisted, but I kept saying no. Then she talked with her professor and they lowered it to 150 RMB… I can handle that! Haha so I got 2 paintings and then they also wrote my name in calligraphy along with the symbol for happiness on a little poster as a gift for buying the paintings.

Forbidden City East Garden

Since the Forbidden City closed early, I decided to go in the “garden” next to it. I’m really not sure what this place was called, but it was beautiful inside with hardly any people to run into. There were several buildings in this garden and they were quite big! If the buildings in the garden are this impressive, I wonder what it must be like in the actual Forbidden City. There was so much detail put into the design of the buildings. I felt so small walking between them all.

One of the several huge buildings in the East Garden.

I also saw some people practicing Thai Chi in the garden.

Afternoon exercise in the park.

There was also a photo shoot going on..

Work it baby! Work it! Own it! No! No! No! (For those of you that don’t remember this quote, please refer to the Austin Powers trilogy.)🙂

I thought I was walking through an exit, but no. It was just one of the many entrances to the Forbidden City, which was now closed. I made a friend there though! Her name is Dolly (aka Chong Lee) from Shanghai. We walked around for a while and she told me about the ceremony of taking down the flag in Tiananmen Square. We still had a couple hours before that would start, so we decided to go find a tea or coffee house. We talked a lot about random stuff, like school, language, teaching, traveling, etc., over tea, juice, and snacks. Later on, we ordered some alcoholic beverages. She got some red wine and I got this Chinese liquor. WOAH! It was extremely strong! So I ordered some juice to go with it. You could tell her and I don’t drink too often because a glass each was enough for us. We exchanged emails and then got the bill to go. (I later found out that this might have been one of the infamous tea house scams. Lesson learned, but it was quite an expensive lesson! It sucks that I was scammed, but regardless I did enjoy my time with her. Traveling by yourself can get pretty lonely, so it was nice to have some company. From now on, I won’t fall for the tea house scam and I hope this story is a good warning for anybody else out there that might find themselves in a similar situation.)

We then headed back to Tiananmen Square for the flag ceremony, but it was already over. She heard it was supposed to be at 7:50 and when we got there at 7:30, it was already over and the square was empty. Bummer. We decided to meet for dinner the next night before I leave Beijing. She walked me most of the way back to my hostel and then we parted ways.

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