The Forbidden City
Gulou & Sanlitun, Beijing
September 27th  2016
Touring The Forbidden City and Exploring Beijing's Hutongs.

To this point the weather in Beijing had been stereotypically awful. But our last full day in Beijing was clear and sunny.

We started our day by visiting Tiananmen Square and The Forbidden City. Both are forever swarmed with tourists foreign and Chinese alike, but the lines tend to move relatively quickly, and it took us no more than fifteen minutes to purchase tickets and make our way into the inner portions of the palaces.

photo of man standing
photo of security guard
photo of mao
photo of chinese flag
photo of chinese government emblem

Once inside, we spent a good two or three hours exploring the various buildings and corridors that make up the palace grounds.

photo of woman in door
photo of lion staue
photo of roof 2
photo of man sitting
photo of roof 1
photo of guy biking
photo of man touching pot
photo of sign
photo of man looking
photo of guy taking picture of pot
photo of sun roof
photo of throne
photo of crowd looking in
photo of girl modeling
photo of couple in gate
photo of fancy gate
photo of flowers
photo of dragon thing
photo of pretty gate
photo of window
photo of statue 1
photo of statue 2
photo of statue 3
photo of tired guide
photo of guide flag zoomed
photo of benches
photo of workers
photo of gate in trees
photo of dragon face

After exploring the city, we walked along the Houhai lakes until we reached Gulou - one of Beijing’s historical Hutong neighborhoods. Hutongs (胡同) are traditionally made up of narrow alleys and dense collections of Siheyuan (四合院) courtyard-style residences. In contemporary Beijing, they’ve taken on a bit of a hipster vibe, and many of the once-residences have been replaced with chic boutiques and restaurants.

photo of laterns
photo of boats and trash
photo of tai chi
photo of boats
photo of wedding
photo of motor bike in alley
photo of tiny car

For lunch we stopped at a dumpling restaurant called Mr. Shi’s and stopped for a beer at a local brewery called Great Leap Brewing. They offered a great selection of beers and their courtyard offered a respite from the bustle of China; it felt more like Brooklyn than Beijing.

photo of kegs
photo of brewery sign
photo of beer list
photo of courtyard

That evening, we stopped back at our hotel before heading out to meet up with some of the people we’d met on The Great Wall the previous day for drinks. We met in a neighborhood call Sanlitun (三里屯). The neighborhood is in middle of Beijing’s embassy district and is home to a number of western-style bars and restaurants. It was a late night of drinking and street BBQ.

Our hotel had a very comfortable rooftop bar, and Geoff and I spent the evening playing cards and watching smoggy skyline.