Beijing- Day Two! ~ Where she sees Edward Norton, eats her weight in breakfast foods, and sees a Forbidden City from many angles!

This morning dad and mom had some work to do to wrap up the conference that had brought them to Beijing in the first place, so I struck out on my own for the first time. After my cab debacle yesterday I was determined to have a smooth trip, so I had the hotel write everywhere I needed to go out in Chinese characters on a business card. I already had a copy of their address in Chinese as well, since the words “Crowne Plaza Hotel” means this to the Chinese cab drivers:

(Funny, but not by me. Credit…)

I picked a hutong (a medieval alleyway full of shopping, remember?) to explore and off I went. It was a busy hutong, full of tourists. (I guess we were all reading the same Lonely Planet guide book….) But it was a lovely, sunny day and the shops were crammed with interesting souvenirs for foreigners like me.


The hutongs and the interesting snacks they serve

There were some rooftop cafes, and looking up I could have SWORN I saw Edward Norton looking down upon me. Maybe he was there researching a new role? Rob laughed at me and said it probably wasn’t him, but I’m going to go ahead and continue to believe it was him, because it makes me smile and think about when he was playing Bruce Banner in the Hulk somewhere in Asia.

“Excuse me… are you looking for Ed? I found him. He’s up there…”

I snapped some fun shots and headed back to the hotel in a cab without incident. My parents had one last morning of breakfast at the buffet scheduled and paid for by the conference, so I went down to use it up for them. (Hey, I’m here to help.) It was the most ridiculous breakfast buffet ever, with everything from waffles to dumplings, to full on chicken dishes with rice and fish! I was overwhelmed and stuffed myself. (Just trying to help my parents use up the credit, of course….)


Food, glorious food…

We had to move hotels, since the Crowne Plaza was being paid for by the conference, and the conference was over. We picked a more moderately priced hotel near the center of the city and we ended up liking it a lot better than the Crowne Plaza anyway. We moved our luggage over to the Park Plaza Hotel and then set out for the Forbidden City!


Goodbye Crowne Plaza, Hello Park Plaza!

Mom with a Crowne Plaza Dragon

First stop- Tianamen Square. There were so many cameras I decided not to strip down to my FREE TIBET shirt… next time perhaps…


Cameras galore and us! 

The Forbidden City itself was really beautiful, massive, and crowded. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. It all makes more sense to me if I can just think of Beijing as China’s Washington DC, and the Forbidden City is like one of the monuments we Americans all clamor to see every year. The buildings were beautiful but mostly empty, save a few thrones, and a great exhibit on clocks.


Mom getting luck as we enter the Forbidden City, and… the Forbidden City! (One of the many plazas within)


Thrones and a Rhino-shaped clock!

Afterwards, my parents were tuckered, so they decided to go back to the hotel. There is another park behind the city with a hill offering a beautiful view of the City, so I decided to take a hike.


The work… the reward!

I went and saw the spectacular view, and heard singing as I descended the hill. This being Sunday, I thought maybe there was an outdoor church in session. What I found was so much more interesting- huge, and I mean HUGE groups of people engaging in all sorts of outdoor activities- singing in groups, dancing in circles, playing their own instruments from home and generally enjoying one another’s company. As an American, I was shocked- strangers would join and exit the groups at will, and everyone was congenial and happy to do so. It was the thing to do, and they welcomed Chinese and wandering Americans with cameras, like myself, into their groups. It was a wonderful feeling and ambiance. I felt like I was wandering through a movie set. Indescribable.


Dancers in the Park


Musicians for the dancers, and a group singing lesson

I caught a cab home and found the hotel room empty. Worried, I called my parents and learned that unbeknownst to me, they had a hard time catching a cab. Deciding that if they had a hard time I would as well, mom went on a mission to find me instead of going home. She was worried I would be stranded out there, when in fact the first cab I hailed stopped and took me back. Turns out they were trying to hail a cab in a place they weren’t allowed to stop! They spent the better part of two hours looking for me, all the while I was up on the hill and in the park enjoying the day. They were relieved to hear I was at the hotel, although dad insists he had no worries- he knew I was a confident traveler. We met up and had a lazy dinner in the hotel due to the exhaustion all of that worrying exerted on my mom, and hit the hay.

~ ~ ~

Extra pictures, no extra charge…


Us at the Forbidden City

Forbidden City stuffs


The Empresses’ Throne and Robe


A water clock (Yes, that huge brown thing is a clock!) and the roof inside a Forbidden City building


The sign for the lounge is quite literal, and the hundreds of other Chinese tourists we saw


Me at the center of Beijing City, on a hill, overlooking the Forbidden City


Dancer and Musician in the park


Friendly musicians in the park

~ ~ ~

– All Images are Copyright Selena Moshell Photography 2012 –

– All rights reserved –

– Please do not use or republish images without written permission –

~ It helps if you say please! =) ~


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