I briefly visited Beijing in 2006. I was living in Singapore at the time and went to Beijing to meet friends from Seattle who were there to take the train across China to Russia. We stayed in the Hebei Guest House in a hutong, a neighborhood of alleys formed by lines of siheyuan, traditional courtyard residences. Sadly, many the hutongs have been demolished. Our guest house was part of the Hebei provincial government complex. Every morning people would gather outside in the street waiting to be allowed in to see government officials. It was a great way to experience part of the real Beijing.
I had recently purchased my first DSLR (a Canon Rebel model sold in Asia) and really didn’t know how to use it. It shows in some of the photos. Looking at them again made me realize my efforts to improve my photography have paid off.