This trip centered on Pterosaur research in Beijing and I managed to get time off to see some sites. Beijing has almost permanent smog and can be almost unbearable on a hot day. Regardless, the Ming Temples, Forbidden City, Summer Palace and of course, the Great Wall of China are a must. Tianenmen Square has also now become a Mecca for tourism.
Beijing Zoo is worth a visit, and it is quite hard to imagine this vast park is surrounded by a concrete urban jungle and thick air pollution. For rare species, particularly the 12 Giant pandas Ailuropoda melanoleuca, the zoo is worth every penny, and other rarities include Japanese Crested Ibis Nipponia nippon, Tonkin Snub-nosed Monkey Rhinopithecus avunculus and Golden Takin Budorcas taxicolor tibetana.
A seven hour trip to the north east took me to Liaoning and the fossil sites where many of the dino-birds have been recovered. Two huge museums, Chaoyang Geo Park, and Sihetun Liaoning Province Museum, have been purposely built to hold the huge numbers of fossils and spectacular specimens recovered from the quarries. Most impressive was the Petrified Forest, resurrected as if the trees had been preserved vertically, and numbering over a hundred. China has surged forward in terms of palaeontology, and the museums are testament to the government’s new financial and political commitment.