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70 Hours in Beijing - Part One
The Forbidden City
Inside the Forbidden City
What a place for someone with a camera!!! Though it is a challenge as the thousands of visitors to the Forbidden City crowd in.
There is so much amazing history here, in this extra ordinary city that was built between 1406 and 1420, and over seven centuries over 24 emperors and their entourages lived there. For 500 years it was forbidden for "ordinary people" to enter.
It originally had 9999 rooms, it covers an area of more than 72 hectares (175 acres) and one could spend several days there exploring all the areas of the city. Sadly for me, I only had a couple of hours there, and each corner revealed more extra ordinary scenery.
The old Peking Opera House, the rooms the concubines waited for the Emperor to summon them, the various rooms the emperors spent their time in.
The stories are astounding and the scenery is just awesome. So much to see.
After the Forbidden City we went to see the Temple of Heaven (Tiantan Park), and that too was astounding. Photos just do not do it justice. It is the biggest of Beijing's parks. The key building is the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest. It is built of wood without any nails, It was struck by lightening in 1889 and almost burnt out, but it has fortunately been restored to its former glory.
The Summer Palace was another extra ordinary place that we went to. The man made lake was very busy with families peddling little boats and a flotilla of other boats plied their way back and forth. We took a short boat ride into the centre of the lake and walked back over the stone bridge between the mainland and the island.
It was here that we were pestered by many many touts trying to sell us all sorts of things from watches (Rolex anyone?) and a hilarious watch with Chairman Mao on the face of it. The price fo the Chairman Mao watch started at 200 RMB, and was soon at 100 RMB, and one American guy was thrilled to get one at 50 RMB, but later discovered that another in our group got one for 20 RMB. Gucci Bags? They went from 200 RMB to 2 or 20 RMB. Persistent they were.
We also went to a jade and pearl factory - for us to loosen our purse strings, but I did not, but I did purchase a silk quilt and silk pillow at the silk factory.
And all of that was on the first day of visiting the city.