I knew that my friend was traveling far to meet me, so I set aside some time in the morning to explore on my own. I walked through Qianmen Historic Street again, then through Tiananmen Square and entered the National Museum of China. It featured a wide range of exhibits reflecting much of Chinese history, in addition to an open hall filled with grand paintings and statues.
I realized that the meticulous records are what allow for the telling of China as the oldest continuous culture. The lists reminded me of those I saw in Vietnam which named specific monarchs.
My friend said she would be late due to the bus schedule, so instead of meeting in front of the Palace Museum (aka Forbidden Palace), we decided that I would visit alone and then meet her at the north gate’s exit. The complex was absolutely humongous and packed with buildings. I was even able to get on top of the wall and discovered miniature exhibitions up there.
Once on the other side, she had not yet arrived, so I told her to meet me in Jingshan Park, which only cost 2 RMB (I realized that the normal city parks all only cost 2 RMB). It had a small museum but was mainly a green space surrounding a large hill with a temple on top. So I headed up the temple and waited for my friend, while enjoying the awesome panoramic view of the Forbidden city and Beijing.
Once she finally arrived we went to the area around Beihai, another restored neighborhood featuring a bunch of historic sights. After a long day of wandering around and ordering authentic foods, we returned to the Qianmen area where we found a place with a nice view of Tiananmen Square.
When waiting to rendezvous with someone, if they are late and you are able to contact them (I recommend a cell phone plan with free international data), you should arrange to meet somewhere else so that you can use the waiting time to explore something else.