We're at our last destination in mainland China, a beautifully quaint town called Lijiang in the Yunnan province. We'll have pictures to share of Christmas in Shanghai, the amazing inn we found in Lijiang and hiking in the nearby Tiger Leaping Gorge, but first we wanted to share a few highlights of our trip so far.
We flew straight to Beijing from Bangkok, and hit the main sites including the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. The Forbidden City was a bit underwhelming, with much of the emphasis on big empty buildings and expansive outdoor spaces that were underscored by the arctic temperature -- a bit less mystery than expected. But Tiananmen Square did not disappoint. While largely an open expanse of empty pavement it held a tangible, spine tingling sense of Soviet-era government authority that pictures and words can't really capture.
We ventured outside of the city for a night in Mutianyu, a small village a couple of hours from Beijing and home to a fairly well preserved/reconstructed section of the Great Wall. We hiked roughly two miles of the ancient blockade, which is large but apparently not visible from space as urban legend would have it.