On Friday, April 3rd, I went out from the hostel to explore the "hutongs" - narrow mazelike alleys which probably make up a majority of the neighborhoods in Beijing. Needless to say, you can get lost in them pretty easily. Of course, if you have a reasonable memory and/or sense of direction, you can quickly find your way back into familiar territory. After having some wantons at a local hutong restaurant, I grabbed some street food as I found my way back to the hostel.
A while later we were ready to have a look at Tienanmen Square and the Forbidden City. On the way, some salespeople on the street tried to get us to buy tickets for a trip to the Great Wall but, thankfully, we had done our research and knew that this particular section would be crowded and slightly less spectacular than other areas.
We walked around through many security checks (nothing new - security checks are everywhere in the mainland) and eventually made our way to Tienanmen Square which, as it turns out, is right at the entrance to the Forbidden City. All in all, it all probably took about four or five hours before we finally reached the end and decided it was time for dinner. After a decent feed, we went to the Olympic Center buildings.
The Olympic Center buildings were designed and built for the 2008 Summer Olympics and for future use in 2022. The one on the right is the Beijing National Stadium AKA the Bird's Nest and the one on the left is the National Aquatics Center AKA the Water Cube. We spent about two hours there shooting rubber band helicopter things into the air and then headed back to the hostel.