Blog #248 I talked about the Great Wall experience in Beijing. In this blog I want to talk about the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square.
The Great Wall experience was pretty incredible. There was so much history there it was breathtaking. After a great breakfast at the hotel our plans for today was to check out the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square.
We arrived at the Forbidden City early as we had plans to visit Tiananmen Square also today. It was massive. There was a place in front to take “Royalty” pictures so of course Linda and I put the robes on and took a few shots in chair fit for a king. Charles stood off to the side taking pictures for us and wearing his Zappos shirt.
As we approached the entrance I couldn’t help notice this older Chinese gentleman off to the side. He must have been 75 -80 yrs old. His face was weathered but in a good way. There was a lot of character with this guy. He had a smile that was warm and inviting. I automatically liked him even though I didn’t know him. He reminded me of my grandfather in a lot of ways and I couldn’t stop staring at him. Its hard to describe the true feeling I had but it was incredible.
We get inside the gates, and it was massive. The place was packed too. It was once a center of government but now a museum of sorts. Of course I barely fit through the doorways but made for good pictures. Here is some history of the Forbidden City from Wikipedia:
There were several palaces to check out and each one had a different purpose. We went into a gift store, and I asked the lady behind the counter what were some must see areas of the city. She kept saying “Concubines”, “Concubines”. What the heck is a concubine, so I had to look it up. My initial impression was a little off from who they really were. Basically, they were women owned by the Emperor for purposes of sex to produce heirs to the throne. And there were thousands of them over the years. In some cases, they were executed for not producing heirs and some would be buried alive with the emperor when he passed. These traditions were changed as it went along but still pretty brutal.
The quarters were nice just like other areas of the city. Here is some history of the Concubines of China:
It was a lot to take in. Not only was it massive but beautifully done. The architecture was amazing and made you imagine ancient China in its glory. So we spent half the day there and needed to head over to Tiananmen Square while the light of day was still present. Luckily it was close to where we were.
The square itself was huge. And there were guards with Machine guns at attention. They were not allowed to talk so people would take pictures near them but not too close. I have to say it was quite intimidating but we took the picture anyways. I gestured to one of them with my camera if it was ok, but received nothing except a stare. I told Linda “Let’s get the picture and get out of here”. The square is best known for the 1989 student protests where one student infamously stood in front of a tank. Here is some more history of Tiananmen Square:
We walked around all the famous sites of the area and headed out to dinner around sunset. We had a very nice dinner and the waitress would always say “You’re welcome” in perfect English every time we thanked her for something. The whole trip was one of the best I had in China. We got a lot done with the factories and knocked out a few bucket list type sites to enjoy. Plus I called my dad on the Great Wall. Something i’ll never forget and something we often talked about while he was still alive.
Tomorrow we would head back to the states and little did we know what was in store for us. Probably one of the worst experiences in my Zappos career. Stay tuned…