The hutongs of Beijing and Dali Courtyard Restaurant

The city has changed since I was last here 5 years ago prior to the Beijing Olympics. It seems more open, less reserved but, if the taxi drivers and hawkers are anything to go by, perhaps a little less friendly. Prices have risen and of course the RMB is stronger against the euro. Western food and drink – coffee for instance – are more freely available in good quality but with prices higher than in Dublin. Local and regional Chinese cuisine is still fantastic value and quality, if you know where to look.
We started our second day in Beijing with a visit to Enter the Panda HQ and a chance to see Shane in action in his office and meet his business partner Dave. Then we took a taxi down to the Bell Tower (Zhonglou) and Drum Tower (Gulou) climbing the steep steps of both, soaking up the ambience of an earlier age. The Drum performance was worth the climb as were the hazy views over this surprisingly green city and across heavy traffic to the misty outline of the Forbidden City.

Climbing the stairs of the Bell Tower

Drummers in action in the Drum Tower

The ethereal Forbidden City rising above the traffic

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