Sunday, May 18, 2014

Princess of China: The Forbidden City

If you are wondering about the title, then first, play this song while you read this post. (That is where the title comes from.) 

I thought it seemed appropriate for my time in China and the release of the new Coldplay album tomorrow! Second, I’m wearing my Coldplay shirt in all of these pictures. Do you think I'm a die hard fan?!

Moving on!

On Wednesday, May 14, we ventured on over to Tiananmen Square. Tiananmen Square is the largest square in the world and is located roughly in the center of Beijing. While Michael, our tour guide, told us that it was the largest square in the world, Wikipedia tells me that it is only the fourth largest. Gotta love Wikipedia.  Tiananmen means “Gate of Heavenly Peace,” which is ironic considering its infamous history of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 which resulted in hundreds of deaths. However, the entire time we were on the tour, they never once mentioned this event. I’m coming to realize that China likes to keep certain things hush, hush and they tend to put on a facade. There is also the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong that we walked through. There were hundreds of people walking through to place flowers in his memory.

Once we had walked around the square a bit, we continued our journey through the several gates to the Forbidden City. To be perfectly honest, much of what I know about China comes directly from the Disney movie Mulan. Good work, Disney on providing me with a little education along with entertainment! The Forbidden City was coined its name for being exclusive to the Chinese royalty during the Ming dynasty. While we were on the tour, we learned that the emperor had relations with over 2000 concubines staying there. There is your fun fact for the day!

As you walked from building to building, you couldn’t help but stare in awe at the detail included on each. Can you imagine the amount of time and patient that went into building and decorating the imperial palace? Before visiting, I pictured the Forbidded City to be a large square. However, as you walk around, it seems endless. While it was quite crowded with tourists, it was fun to try and picture what it must have been like back when it was a functioning city. While I really loved the Great Wall, I must say that I think the Forbidden City has been my favorite historical spot thus far.   

Jumping pictures everywhere! :)
Once we made our way through the rest of the Forbidden City and the Imperial Gardens, we made our way over to the Pearl Market where we had lunch and bargained for some items. The portions here are HUGE, as you can see in the picture. My lunch was delicious. I’m not entirely sure what was in it, but it was called the original rice noodle.

The dumplings weren't mine, but I did sample them!

Once we were through with lunch, it was time to bargain! It was a little overwhelming having all of the sales clerks yelling at you to buy their items. I bought a couple souvenirs and some jade jewelry for gifts.
After our full day, we were already off to our next adventures in Shanghai. I couldn’t believe how quickly time had passed in Beijing. Time flies when you’re having fun!

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