Beijing, the capital of the People's Republic of China has been described by tourists as China's largest theme park; for the Chinese it is the 'Promised Land' with its lure of prosperity.
Tiananmen Square, the former stage of Cultural Revolution rallies and now a place of recreation is where we begin this journey to the beat of the daily flag-raising ceremony where PLA soldiers are drilled to march at 108 paces per minute, 75cm per pace as the sun rises. Not far away lies the largest and best preserved group of ancient buildings in China, the Forbidden City, kept out of bounds for 500 years by the Ming and Qiung dynasty emperors and now a place that welcomes visitors. Following a climb to the roof of the Ancient Observatory for a great view of the city, we sample Mao's revolutionary cooking prepared by his townsfolk whilst admiring the grounds of the Lama Temple, the most colourful in Beijing, with its beautiful gardens, stunning frescoes and tapestries.
Inside we look for the image of the Buddha having sex, formerly used to educate Emperors' sons, and that evening carrying colourful paper lanterns, we join revellers of the Lantern Festival during the evening of the 15th day of the first moon, before driving to the Longquin Gorge, a canyon in Yanquin County about 60 miles north-west of Beijing where we end our journey at Beijing's Ice Lantern Festival amidst a colourful fiesta of ice and light.