Really three kids, one six months old and I thought it was a good idea to travel on sleeper trains??!! I did, I thought that it would be all part of the adventure, exciting, novel, it was cheaper than staying in yet another hotel overnight and it also meant that we didn’t waste any days with travel. In China most entry fees are only payable once children reach 120cm this is also true for transport. So the train travel for our kids was free.
First train ride was fantastic!! We all slept well, having a four booth cabin to ourselves it was reasonably comfortable, our kids were quiet throughout the night as was the little boy in the neighbouring cabin. Hostesses walked up and down the 20 odd carriages selling foods; noodles, fruit, soup and so on.
When we woke and opened the curtains soft morning light streamed in, I though it was mist at first but realised that it was most probably low lying smog. Beijing, with a population of 20 million is considerably smaller than Shanghai (30 million), with few sky-scrapers in the inner city area, it has a very different feel.
We were fortunate for our first day here, there was blue sky the usual smog that lies over the city was gone. It was hot but not too humid. Our guide today was Stephen, he was great.
I was in awe at the Forbidden City, the sheer size, the ornate hand-carved marble, the mass of buildings, intricate hand painted woodwork on every building, the doors so large I can’t fathom how they were made by hand in the early 1400’s the size and quantity of the stone.
The Temple of Heaven built in the same dynasty a few kilometres from the Forbidden City is a round tower, where the emperors would pray and honour the seasons, another inspiring and humbling structure.