On our way to Tian’anmen Square and the Forbidden City. (The City entrance is on the left, and the Square is coming up on the right.)
Tian’anmen Squareis the largest square in the world. But… it’s really just a big piece of pavement.
The entrance to the Forbidden City. I’m so excited! AH! This was definitely on my top 5 list of things I really wanted to see before I died. While it was the imperial residence, you could only enter with the Emperor’s permission. It was built in 1406-1420… almost 600 years old.
Whenever you see pictures in guidebooks or online… you really mostly only see photos of the impressive main courtyard. But the Forbidden City really is HUGE, way bigger than I expected. (The complex has 980 buildings and covers 7,800,000 sq ft.) We suddenly realized this when we looked at our map before deciding which direction to go.
A lot of tour-groups would give their members brightly colored hats so they could keep track of them.
This was our first real experience with lack-of-line-following and pushiness in China. There’s maybe 20-30 people crowding around to see the Emperor’s throne room inside. If they’d just waited in line in an orderly fashion, everyone could have seen it pretty quickly… but instead, everyone was quite forcibly shoving each other and in order to see it at all, you had to shove yourself to get in, and then you had to shove your way out. Judy actually got stuck and I had to push some guys out of the way to help her get out. Ridiculous!
Here’s the throne room everyone was shoving to see.
I thought these interlocking ribbon designs were lovely.
This is one of (four?) Nine Dragon Walls in China. AJ really wanted to see it.
Check out the creepy eye balls on the side there. Technically, I think they’re supposed to be pearls.
Marcus shielding AJ from the sun while she takes a picture of the foo dogs.
I really liked this dragon gargoyley water spout!
AJ took a photo of me taking a photo of the gargoyle
Luckily it wasn’t that horribly crowded when we went, especially once you paid like $5 and entered the “artifact gallery” area which led to further complexes inside the Palace. I’m glad we decided to do this (we had no idea) because there was way more Palace this way that we would have missed. And the artifacts were super rad.
Check it out, this foo dog has coral growing out of his butt. (j/k)
Really beautiful anthropomorphized members Chinese Zodiac
One of my favorite parts of the City, Xi Shang Ting (Pavilion for Bestowing Wine) which included the “Ditch of Floating Cups”… Oh, China, I’m not sure “ditch” is exactly the word you were looking for….
But basically, you sat in the pavilion, there was water in the serpentine “ditch” and floating wine cups would come to you while you composed froufrou poetry. Sweet.
One of my favorite artifacts, a golden dragon celestial globe.
With the constellations in PEARLS.
There were tiny tiny people carved into the gold…
At some point, I caved and paid $5 to get my picture taken on a golden throne in traditional Chinese bridal attire. (I pretty much just wanted that giant blue floral headdress on my head. haha…) Totally worth the $5.
In case you needed further illustration of how tall I am.
Some of the upper walkways in the gallery area. If I had an epic library, I’d so have walkways like this.
Just in case you weren’t sure this post was by me, a photo of my feet and blossom petals. There were apple, cherry, lilac and various fruittrees blooming ALL OVER Beijing while we were there.
Check out the length of our legs. 😉
Sometime around this time, a little Chinese lady came over and gestured to me with her camera. She didn’t speak any english and I didn’t speak any chinese, so I thought she wanted me to take a photo of her for her? But then she grabbed my arm and moved me over to a particular spot, put her arm through mine, and had her friend take a photo of us together. (Because I’m a tall white girl, I guess?) haha. She was nice, and it was funny, so I didn’t mind.
Oh, No! We lost Aimee to blossom photography!
Oh, No, Marcus! You’ve lost two of them, now!
Dui Xiu Shan (Hill of Accumulated Elegance) through flowers. It’s an artificial mountain about 10 meters high at the back of the City complex. We thought it was kinda amusing that all the names of places were Hall of Harmonious Harmony or Hill of Peaceful Elegance, etc… it was like you used a name generator for it.
Around this time the City started to close and they started to kick people out. The previous day with my extremely long flight… I’d been so tired, I wasn’t sure if the trip was worth it. But today, after seeing how GORGEOUS the Forbidden City was, I felt like I’d fly 15 hours just to see THIS and go home.
Then, we got a fake-cab to the tailor. Here’s the back of his car. We figured he was trustworthy.
Here’s us in a cute shopping area. We were looking for a tailor so that I could get something custom made while I was there. Labor and fabric are relatively cheap in China, so I was really excited about having something custom made just for me! AJ and Judy had this done in Shanghai (for cheaper…!)
A jacket I liked (note the tucks in the patterned fabric inset.)
One of the tailor houses
Some catalog images you could have in any fabric you wanted, made in your size. You could also draw a picture of what you wanted.
What poor Marcus, the sherpa, looked like by this time. He’s holding a lot of our fabric purchases and sweatshirts, etc. What a good sport!
A sign near the ATM. No idea what’s going on here.
After that we had peking duck at the faster-side-version of a famous restaurant (Quanjude). We were SO starving at this point that we would have eaten anything, but it really was delicious! You basically make a pita with the duck.
The cute Chinese-Ginza-esque area (Qianmen) the restaurant was in
Which contained a fancy fancy Chinese Starbucks.