Great Wall Marathon 2012: Tianamen Square, Forbidden Palace, and Yuanlong Silk Store

Introduction and Planning
Training Schedule
Flight, Airport Transfer, Cocktail Reception
Longest Day: Wall Walkthrough, Acrobatic Show
Tianamen Square, Forbidden Palace, and Yuanlong Silk Store
Race Day and Marathon Review
Birds Nest Stadium, Summer Palace, Beijing Zoo, Gala Dinner Race Celebration, Atmosphere Bar
Pickpockets at the Beijing Zoo
Beijing Hutong Rickshaw Tour, Temple of Heaven, Peking Duck Dinner, and Hooters
Flight home and trip summary

The next day was a bit easier. The day started about 9am so we had much more time to get breakfast and sleep in a bit. Most of us were awake at 6am because of the jetlag but at least we had a lot more time to eat breakfast and socialize with the other runners in our group. There were a wide range of full marathon runners, from young 20s to mid 50s.

The first stop was Tianamen Square.

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The above picture was of our tour guide Wendy. Each bus had their own tour guides and she was ours. I tried one of the other guides one of the last days but I believe Wendy was the best out of the three guides we had. Below, you can see a collection of surveillance cameras. There were spread all over the square.

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The picture on the left is the Great Hall of People. This is where many of the government meetings take place. There are over 20 provinces and each province has their own office along with their own private restaurant that not only serves the province’s local cuisine but also provides a private place for their internal province discussions. We started on the national museum side and then walked under the street via walkway towards the square to get a good view of the neighboring buildings. The second picture on the right is the Forbidden Palance.

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Below picture on the left is the national museum. The picture on the right shows the panda we followed for about a week.

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Forbidden Palace on the left, Great Hall of People on the right.

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Some soldiers are walking in formation in the picture on the right.

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Monument to the People’s Heroes on the left.

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Normally soldiers are guarding the Forbidden City but there are some plain clothes military personnel guarding the palace.

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The Forbidden City is actually behind the second set of buildings seen in the picture on the right. The ticket booth is off to the right. Once inside, the size of the interior is just amazing. There are stone bridges that goes over a small river inside the palace. Through another layer of buildings is the inner courtyard where the king lived (picture to the right).

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The entire floor was made of many layers of brick. The ground itself took a few years to build. The king was paranoid of assassins tunneling underneath to kill him. That also explains why there are no trees inside to give intruders a place to hide. Fire was a huge problem as getting water into the palace was often a problem There were large basins of water spread out along the palace, but it was often not enough to stop large fires. There has been multiple fires at the palace.

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Every part of the palace was decorated, including the roof. There are small statues on most of the roofs and all decorated with gold. The king was also obsessed with the number 9 as its the large single number. Many of the buildings incorporate the number 9 on it, like number of pillars on the buildings.

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The royal quarters were in the back section of the city. The king and queen would live in the building on the left. Also in the same area were all of the king’s concubines.

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There was also a private garden so he can enjoy some scenery when he was not in his summer palace.

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The exit is in the picture below. There is also a giant moat protecting the palace as he wanted to keep out intruders.

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The next stop was the silk factory. The teach visitors about the silk making process, from the worms to how they gather and treat the silk to weaving the garments. For the tour companies, the tour is free but for other guests there is an entrance fee. This is a good way to get visitors into the factory as they also sell blankets, pillows and clothes, which they make their money on.

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We got back early to the hotel and there was a pasta dinner organized at the hotel in one of the conference rooms. The complaint was that they ran out of pasta towards the end so a few people didn’t get enough. Some people showed up a bit late and didn’t get enough. There was a nice spread of desserts as well. The dinner was early so that we could get some rest before the race. We needed it as the buses left at 4am to go to the wall for the 7:30am start. It was going to be a long day.

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