Go Bohemian at Factory 798
We left Factory 798 out of a previous version of this guide, reasoning that an ad hoc gathering of performance artists, painters, and sculptors in a former military complex wasn't something the regime would tolerate. We were wrong. Market rents are now charged, so don't expect to pick up a bargain, but there's no need to make a purchase: The Dashanzi art district makes for a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon of gallery and cafe hopping.
Pay Your Respects to the Chairman
While Jung Chang's Mao: The Untold Story subjects the Great Helmsman to a Cultural Revolution-style denunciation, you'll find no trace of such disrespect inside Chairman Mao's Mausoleum, set to the south side of Tian'an Men Square. While there are souvenir vendors, this is far from the kitsch experience you may expect.
Exercise with Elders
At the break of dawn each day, retired Beijingers flock to numerous local parks. Aside from taijiquan and ballroom dancing, you may spy master calligraphers practicing their art with oversize sponge-tipped brushes, or amateur troupes performing Beijing Opera or revolutionary airs from the 1950s.
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