Thursday, February 26, 2009

Beijing Day One

(After the first attempt you saw we asked another
tourist to help us, and, although he claimed no knowledge of how to use a camera, he at least managed to keep his fingers out of the photo!)

So our first day in Beijing started with a quick breakfast in the hotel. And then we were off to Tiananmen square. We thought about going to see Mao in his Mausoleum (or the Maosoleum as it is frequently referred to.) But then we saw the line wrapping more than half way around the building. 6 people wide, bodies cramped closely together. Although we were told it moved quickly, it was decided that we didn't need to wait and we kept moving forward. Tiananmen is the largest open square in the world. It is also one of the major sights for domestic tourists in China, and they were out in force yesterday morning. After weaving our way through the square, we crosses the Avenue of Eternal Peace and head to the front gate of the Forbidden City, Heavenly Peace Gate.

Pictures galore with the imposing gate and world famous portrait of the Great Helmsman, Chairman Mao. (Above is a picture of Sarah and Merritt and a Chinese Tourist and his friend photographing them outside of Heavenly Piece Gate.) We then crossed the moat and started in to the first courtyard of the Forbidden City.

We didn't get to far. Instead we doubled back and climbed up the Heavenly Peace Gate. A short, STEEP flight of stairs later, (although put to shame by the Bell Tower stairs we climbed later in the day) we were on top of the gate looking out over the city and Tiananmen Square. Seeing the choreography of large groups of Chinese tourists out on the square, instantly recognizable by their monochromatic hats, was sight. Large groups all trying to work their way forward over the large square, trying to work their way to where we were.

More pictures and then it was time to head into the Forbidden City proper. The imperial home of the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Lived in for about 600 years. It was the seat of power and the prison of the Emperor, his wives, concubines, and children, and the eunuchs that served the imperial family. A palace of almost 1000 rooms. Now one of the largest museums in the world.

The size of the Forbidden City is so mind bogglingly large. The best way I have to describe it is with this: There are two buildings for the Emperor to rest in during his walk from the housing complex in the back of the palace to the receiving chambers in the front.

It took us about an hour and a half to walk just along the central axis of the palace complex. We only went into one of the exhibits and took one little detour from just a straight walk front to back. An hour and a half. That is big!

(My computer battery is about to die. I need to pick up an adapter today... so I will continue day one and add day two tonight. But info on the rest of the pictures:
Picture 1: The group showing school pride in the Forbidden City.
Picture 2: A moment of rest sitting looking at a resting chamber.
Picture 3: Jeb being "studious" during an afternoon tea and journaling break.
Picture 4: A new sunglass purchase and something over my shoulder?!?!
Picture 5: The remains of a great dinner... I'll try to get a picture of food today before it is decimated.)
Signing off for now. Colin Penley.

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