Friday, 14 December 2012

Travel stories

What an amazing gift travel is. Those of us who have the time and money to explore a bit of the world are so very lucky. I have come back from my three month trip refreshed, confused, excited and a bit bewildered. And I have seen lots of amazing things along the way.

I'm going to start my travel story with Beijing, the city where I began my travels. Beijing is big and busy but with a friendly small-town feel, and it is shiny and new, and amazingly old, with so many beautiful buildings tucked in between the sky-scrapers and multi-lane highways.

One of my favourite things about Beijing was the contemporary art scene. Some years ago some 1960s red brick factory and warehouse buildings just north of the city were transformed into the fantastic 798 District.

As a contemporary art fan I was really spoilt for choice - with great architecture, fascinating artwork and interesting commentaries on Chinese politics and culture everywhere I looked.

There were some great exhibitions there, including one by Wang Mai using recycled materials from industry to create fantasy landscapes.

Another thing I really liked about Beijing was the hutongs. These are like little villages strung along narrow backstreets in behind the big busy roads. You see people pushing carts, selling fruit, stopping to chat to their neighbours. And because Beijing is so flat and bike-friendly, you can see all of this as you stop your bicycle behind the cart-pusher who is stopping to talk to his neighbour...

Beijing is also remarkably close to the Great Wall, which is really one of those sights that you have to see in person. I will try to recreate the experience for you below...

Of course no visit to Beijing would be complete without a trip to Tiananmen Square...

I even got a bit of culture in at the Lama Temple:

But then it was time for me to catch a flight to India... for the next chapter in my adventure...

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