I am falling behind in my little travel diary. It is because I am absorbing so many cultural inputs that I constantly need to analyse and digest that I have no time to sit down and write it all up.
I have visited the Confucius Temple, the Royal Academy of the emperors, the big Tibetan Lama Temple and yesterday the Emperors’ Palace and “The Square of Heavenly Peace” Tian’anmen and various other locations.
The problem in sightseeing is that there are so many people – you can hardly imagine. Yesterday it took me more than 1 hour to get from the subway station to the entrance of the forbidden city (about 500 meters) because of security checks. Then I had to queue for more than another hour for a ticket! That’s where the fun stops for me.
Now I have seen the greatest cultural values that Beijing has to offer, so I can spend the rest of the time looking for gems off the beaten track. Somehow it did not work out with my “local guides”. Beijing is extremely commercial And they try to rip you off nearly everywhere. Fortunately, I have an excellent travel guide book. It’s from a publishing company “Reise Know How” and they call their guides “Manual for individual Discovering” – and that is absolutely true.
Two years ago when I travelled Vietnam for two months from North to South their Vietnam guide kept me clear of the tourist hordes and I found the best local hotels, restaurants and all kinds of other venues. In stark contrast to Lonely Planet and Rough Guide etc – where they all list all the same places and you spend your time with foreigners
This afternoon I want to have a look at some markets. The only thing I am planning to buy is top quality Sichuan pepper. The one I can find in Europe has already lost most of its aroma.