Pictures from the Forbidden City and near the center of town

Jingshan park, north of the Forbidden City. This is looking up at the top of the hill from the north gate.

This is looking down at the Forbidden City from the top of the hill. It was a very smoggy day with some fog and clouds also.

This is one of the bigger buildings in the Forbidden City that was open on the day I went (the biggest was undergoing restoration for the Olympics).

This is a closeup of some of the statues on the corner of a building in Beihai park, just NW of the Forbidden City

Lots of crowds in the more touristy areas

More Forbidden City

Famous wall with dragons in the Forbidden City

Closeup of one of the dragons

Building and garden in the East part of the FC, which was less crowded because it cost extra to go in that part

Many of the roofs have plants growing on them. They are restoring most of the buildings for the Olympics

One of the throne rooms

The front gates of the FC, from the inside

And from the outside. This is one of the few pictures of Mao that's still around, and the most prominent

The area East of the FC is built up and somewhat similar to Japanese cities, but with much bigger hotels and less neon. This store claims to be part of the "Endless Culture Plaza"

Near the "Endless Culture Plaza," the "Artistic Mansion" shopping center includes a "Gourmet Palace" and a MCD's. Unfortunately, this shot was blurred a little by light rain on the lens

Pictures from the Lama Temple and Tiananmen Square

This is the main building in the Lama Temple, which encloses a 3-story Buddha made of a single tree (there is a sign from the Guiness Book noting this)

Prayer wheel

One of the temple buildings in the Lama Temple. The government-approved Lama supposedly lives in an area of the temple that's behind a "No Visit" sign.

Ads in the T Sq subway stop (there were also video ads in the subway tunnels as the train was moving, which I couldn't get a picture of). These are all for Shiseido, but there are many different ads in all the stations

Museums of the Revolution and Chinese History, on T Sq. The red trailer on the left is a scam where 20-something people pretend to be art students and try to pass off cheap prints as original paintings (this is common in all touristy areas of Beijing).

The Monument to the Peoples' Heroes in T Sq, with Mao's tomb in the background

The Great Hall of the People, on the west side of the square

Statue showing the People, north of Mao's tomb (reminds me of the statue of the Cubs Fans in front of Wrigley Field)

A band playing for the Flag-lowering ceremony at sunset, in front of the Great Hall

All the flags are up for the ceremony, but may have been taken down later after they kicked us out.

After the ceremony, soldiers came out and kicked all the People out of the square for a "very important event." The green uniformed soldiers kicked us out of the square itself and the surrounding side streets, then the blue uniformed police drove the crowd back a couple more blocks so we couldn't see what was going on.

The old front gate of the FC, which stands alone at the south end of the square. You can pay 20Y (about $2.50) to climb up it, but you can't go out on any balcony past the first level, so the views aren't worth it. There is a view of Mao's tomb that I took on a different day, below.

This is another closeup of some of the statues of the People in the part of T Sq south of Mao's tomb

The next set of shots are random shots of the City and the Temple of Heaven

The new Line 13 subway has fare gates with Japanese technology (just like all the trains in Tokyo)

The gates take several kinds of cards, including a small magnetic ticket about the size of a postage stamp (just like the ones in Tokyo). Unlike BART machines, these don't jam when the ticket is wet. Unfortunately, it's too dark to see the ticket in this shot.

This is one of the 10-lane expressways that crosses the city. Driving habits are similar to Boston, but with more bikes and pedestrians (going lower down in order of right of way). Cars ALWAYS have the right of way, even when running red lights

These are some of the old houses near the subway line. Most are being demolished by the Redevelopment Agency. People are being moved to high rises like the ones in the background

Historic astronomical instruments at the Old Observatory. Most are from 1500-1700

More astronomical instruments

Another area being Redeveloped, as seen from the subway

The 2 main buildings in the Temple of Heaven complex

The Temple of Heaven

Inside, details of roof

JMC, on the center stone in the Altar of Heaven. This is supposed to be the exact center of the Earth.

The Altar of Heaven. The 3 tiers represent Heaven, Earth, and Man

Further back from the Altar, showing the gates that surround it

The Old Observatory is conveniently right next to a subway stop

This is on the bridge between the 2 main buildings in the temple of Heaven

The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, the main building in the Temple

Details of the ceiling inside. People can't go in, so this is a shot from the entrance

Cow statues inside the building

Details of art inside the roof of the building

Another instrument at the observatory, from when scientific instruments were beautiful as well as functional

Mao's tomb in T Sq, from the south gate (seen in the shots of T Sq above)

Mountains at Badaling pass, about 1 hr from Beijing. This is where people can climb steep sections of the Great Wall (that have been restored)

This is the view from the last (highest) end of the restored section, showing some of the unrestored rocks and gravel that's left beyond it.

This is a view of scenery from the top; unfortunately, it was especially smoggy that day

From near the top of the climb, looking down

Near the top, there is a fork to go down in several areas

Another scene looking down at various other parts of the wall (also visible in the hills in the background)

Spirit gate in the Ming Tombs, with trees growing out of the wall. This is the major above-ground building at each tomb

Tourist trap about halfway up the climb on the Great Wall

More shots along the Wall

Hillsides near the Wall, with a terrace-like appearance (previously farmed?)

Gazebo about 1/2 way up the climb, with nice fall colors in the foreground

Tons of tourists at a bottleneck near the lowest part of the climb; don't get there too late in the day!

Shot showing the bottom part of the climb, with loads of tourists up to the first bottleneck

A closer shot of the bottom part of the climb. The stairs are fairly steep

Shots of a less steep section of the Wall on the other side of the expressway

Gate at the Wall, with some of the tourist buses in the foreground

Closeup of gate at the Ming tombs

Passage from the only tomb that's been dug up to date (Ding Ling). Going down into it was fairly anticlimactic, since everything was already raided when it was dug up 50 years ago. The other 12 tombs have not been dug up

View of the tomb from the front gates. These parts were always meant to be above ground, and the last shot above is behind the top gate (the same one with trees growing out of the wall)

The next set of shots are random shots of the City taken from my bus to the airport. They aren't as interesting, but capture some of the flavor of the city

Side of street, with bikes and a pedestrian overpass

Shops along street. This was in a "normal" part of town, without really upscale or middle class stuff, but better than the shops run out of shacks near the old houses

More people on bikes. Biking is a much more risky activity due to the fact that cars have right of way over bikes and people, and there are now many more cars than bikes

Some newer buildings and a bus

Large apartment building

Bus and taxi stops

Giant inflatable kids advertising something

Signs were everywhere for an African summit that's taking place next week

More construction. The smog in this shot is typical for a sunny day; some days were much worse

More construction. I think this is a new subway line

Nice fall colors

The 13 line, the only one of the current 3 that goes above ground. The older lines still use paper tickets and are completely underground

Gas station

More construction at the airport

Expressway from the airport to town. I think the trees are part of the "Great Green Wall," a bunch of trees planted north of the city to help block dust storms

Toll gate near the airport