After a good 12 hr flight on a full plane, featuring a 13+ yr old inflight entertainment system, I headed to get a short stay visa. No problems with that (not like the grilling we got as a family in Shanghai in January). The tourist office tried to sell me a limo and driver for 6 hours for 1100¥ (Yuan), and when I asked the second time about the train, it was now 900¥ for a taxi.
So in the spirit of adventure, I spent 25¥ (about AUD$4) on the fast train to Dongzhimen station (via terminal 1&2) and spent 2¥ on the subway (6 stops) to Qianmen station, right at Tiananmen Square.
I joined the building crowds in the already exhausting heat walking to the Palace, and it was just 9am. Turned out to be children's day at the Forbidden Palace, so that boosted the numbers.
With all the tour buses, security checks stations and barricades, it took me a bit to get oriented, but once I saw the palace gates and pre-photo picture of Chairman Mao, I was happy. In between the crowds, I tried to get the same photo Karen and I took on our honeymoon in December 1985 (another cycling holiday).
After walking to the ticket entrance of the palace, and admiring all the red hats, I left plenty of time and made the reverse journey back to T3 for my afternoon flight to Frankfurt. As my bicycle was checked thru that made the transit a lot easier and I hope the Chinese reliability holds true and it arrive with me.