Chinese Coat of Arms

Exploring China
Beijing, Xi'an, Chengdu, Songpan, Yangshuo

May 2007

Beijing - Xi'an - Chengdu - Songpan - Yangshuo - Back in Beijing

Organized by TrekTrek, Slovenia

Duration: 19 days
Group size: 8
Tour guide: Roman Križanič

Map of China
Map of China

Canon PowerShot S2 IS Photographs presented were taken with Canon PowerShot S2 IS digital camera, originally taken in 2592 x 1944 (5 MPixel) resolution and downsampled for the web site to 1280 x 960. Original photos are also available on a DVD version. Most images were digitally adjusted for optimal color and contrast to compensate for exposure errors. There are a total of 848 photos in this gallery, additional 126 were not included.

Due to its size and number of photographs, the gallery is presented in multiple pages to make it easier to download and browse. If you would prefer to see the whole trip on a single page, it's available here. Warning, lots of thumbnails to load.

It goes without saying - click on any thumbnail for a larger picture.


To begin our jurney, we gathered in the late morning in Ljubljana, and drove by van to Muenchen, Germany to catch a night Air China flight to Beijing.

Munich International
Our Air China B-767 Flying over Mongolia and northern China...

...before landing in Beijing the next morning local time.

Initial impressions of Beijing
while driving from the airport
The first home away from home, an ex-brothel, Leo Hostel

Map of Beijing Beijing Subway Map
Map of Beijing City Center Beijing Subway Map

Having settled down after a long flight, in the afternoon we took a walk and visited the nearby Tian'anmen Square.

Leo Hostel has a near-perfect location, within walking distance of Tian'anmen Square and the Forbidden City,
and in the one of the few remaining old parts of the city, with busy market streets.

Locals gather for board games, and street vendors offer a quick snack The Qianmen Gate (Front Gate) and
Arrow Tower, south of the Tian'anmen Square
and the Forbidden City

The Tian'anmen Square, the largest
public square in the world
Kite flyers Tian'anmen Gate, entrance
to the Forbidden City
Monument to the People's
Heroes, with Chinese
History Museum

Great Hall of the People Mao Zedong Mausoleum Guards at the Tian'anmen Square

We headed from the Tian'anmen Gate to the east,
by the high-class hotels... the Wangfujing Street, one of the
most famous shopping streets in Beijing
The first Chinese-style dinner,
right when the evening shift
was starting

The following day was reserved for paying a visit to the most famous of Chinese landmarks, The Great Wall. We have opted to go to the Simatai section of the wall - a bit remote, less crowded than some more visited locations, highly authentic, and earning the reputation of being the most beautiful section of the Great Wall.
Simatai is some 130 kilometers to the north-east of Beijing, about three hours of driving.

Leaving early, we got stuck
in a morning rush hour
Arriving to the entry, The Great Wall
was looming on the ridge above
A path goes to the remains of the second tower,
after that it's a steep climb on the wall itself

Making our way
to the wall
There are two sections of the wall in Simatai, eastern
and western, divided by a river valley
The first two towers on
the steep eastern side

All the way up we were accompanied by a group of
friendly local women, selling souvenirs
A view to
the west...
...and further up the
never-ending stone stairs

Inside one of the towers Relentlessly attacking the stairs
and quickly gaining height

Half way up, the final
few towers ahead
Simatai entry with
path to The Wall
In some parts, The
Wall is narrow...
...while other sections are a challenge
on their own

Massive guard towers A quick photo session before the
next group of stairs
Some of the bricks
carry old inscriptions
View to the north, that's
Mongolia over there

The top of one of the
guard towers
The Wall goes on,
6.700 km in total
Ever-present souvenir vendors
high up on the wall
Almost at the top, it's
not that steep anymore

Reaching the last accessible tower on the east
side, the rest is closed to the public
Starting our way back down the stairs,
the souvenirs ladies went into action

Instead of walking for 30 min, you can
take the flying fox and slide down
over the lake in half a minute
A short boat ride takes
you back to the entry
Driving back to Beijing through
local villages

Chinese drivers are capable of creating long
stand-stills should two cars happen to touch
Beehive-like buildings
in Beijing
To end the long day, we were awarded
with a foot massage at the Traditional
Chinese Medical Health Center

Before moving out of the Beijing and proceeding to central China, we had one more great landmark left to visit, The Forbidden City (or The Palace Museum, as Chinese would like to have it called now days). On our way there, we stopped at The Great Hall of the People, the Chinese parliament, for a quick tour.

Walking by the Tian'anmen Square, there are
lots of Chinese own tourist groups
First, we pay a visit
to the parliament
The vast main lobby

Hunan Hall Those are expensive
There is a lot of art in all halls

Beijing Hall The main auditorium The main lobby from upstairs

The Ballroom Shanghai Hall Several other halls for meetings Chinese parliament
drive park

The Great Hall of the People from the outside,
with a neat small park in the front of it
Back on the Tian'anmen
Square, Forbidden City
entry ahead
Tian'anmen Gate and seven arched bridges
in the front

Forbidden City Map
Forbidden City Map

Entering the
Forbidden City area
It's hot, it's Sunday, and it's crowded The Meridian Gate

The inner courtyard with five bridges
over the Golden River
Bridges over
the Golden River
The Gate of Supreme
Details of the
gate's roof

Looking back at the
five bridges
The Hall of Supreme Harmony, the central building in the
Forbidden City, is being renovated. Grand ceremonies
were held on this large marble plateau in the front
Passing it on the right,
Hall of Preserving Harmony
is to the left
Throne in The Hall
of Central Harmony

Golden roofs of
the gates
The Hall of Preserving Harmony. The number of animals
on roof's corners mark the importance of the building
The throne inside The square north of The
Hall of Preserving Harmony

Gate of Celestial Purity Marble relief from the
stairs behind The Hall
of Preserving Harmony
A lion in front of
The Gate of
Celestial Purity
Hall of Celestial Purity The queen used to be
carried around in this

Details of the Imperial Garden, the northmost part of the Forbidden City

A wide water trench
surrounds the Forbidden City
Behind the North Gate is a Jingshan Park with the prospect hill, and
The Pavilion of Everlasting Spring on top, offering great views of Beijing.

Panoramic views of Beijing from the top of the hill

To sum up the day, we took the subway to the nearby Silk Street (Xiushui Market), famous shopping center notorious for counterfeit designer brands and heavy bargaining. What used to be an outdoor market is now a five storey shopping mall. We will be returning here on our last day in China for some serious shopping.

Beijing subway Most of Beijing is
under construction
Silk Market, packed
with counterfeited goods
Chinese have a sense
of humor

Next page: Xi'an