Before everyone arrived, I explored the Hutongs near Tian An Men. They were so ramshackle, it was hard to believe that I was in the same city as the smart square, well-heeled tourists and upmarket foreign shops. 

Tian An Men Square

We spent the first evening together on Tian An Men Square, messing about with flags and kites. We definitely provided some amusement for onlookers...

The Forbidden City

In the morning, we headed to the Forbidden city in time for it to open. Despite it being relatively early, there were still throngs of tour groups waiting to go in. Still, the scale of the place meant that other tourists barely impacted on our visit and I still found the wide spaces, courtyard, rooftops, red and yellow walls and dilapidated grandeur of the place really impressive. Although it was Mum's second time there, we had a good time and Dad even haggled for a painting!

Jingshan Park

After the Forbidden City, we climbed the hill of Jingshan Park to get a panorama of the city and the imperial rooftops, before a tasty Cantonese lunch at Otto's.

The Summer Palace

We took a lazy boat trip to the Summer Palace

The Great Wall

We took the 'Secret Great Wall ' tour offered by our hostel and it was just great! We barely saw another person and got to explore both restored and un-restored sections in peace. A fab adventure...

Evenings in Beijing

Chop sticks, bright lights, pizza, haggling, alleyways, hutongs and boulevard...