Beijing: The Forbidden City

I say this all the time, but it is because i truly feel it.  I never imagined i would be here and see this.  Feel this. I remember when I used to watch those movies about Chinese emperors… or those with Jet Li, with lots of Hollywood special effects.  I would think: gee, this is sooooooo EXAGGERATED (eye roll!).  Like ten thousand soldiers, and a mansion for each wife.  And hundreds of alleys sometimes with no guards allowing for secret messages to be exchanged, or Jet Li to invade.   But after visiting the Forbidden City (now called The Palace Museum), I’m thinking: WOWWWW those movies did quite a pretty AMAZING job and is quite close to giving you a feeling of what the real thing was.  Because no movie or special effect can beat this feeling you get when you enter the Forbidden City.  It is HUGE.  VAST.  WIDE.  STUNNING.   And to imagine the TIME.  Effort. Details that went into in.  in those days!  And the  MATHEMATICS!!!!!!  Oh My, mathematics!!! everything symmetrical, lined up one after the other….What were they thinking!?  And who were these geniuses thinking up these grand architectural plans with geometry and artistic details and bold colours!?

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And this is considered a very “empty” low day

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We had planned for half a day for Tiananmen Square AND Forbidden City.  We started out around 10 or so… and by 12 we were still just at Tiananmen Square… taking it all in.  And then we spend the next ..5-6 hours in the Forbidden City.  We walked slowly, got lost in the alleys, marvelled as countless carvings, and gates, and ceilings.  And when we got tired, we just sat on the steps, and watched the people go by.  And tried to imagine what it was like in those days.  With no heating or electricity or sewage (or was there sewage?).  Imagine how many guards would guard a queen’s mansion.  How many soldiers would be lined up at a square for a ceremony.  How the parade would be at a crowning.

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That is me at that door.  Can you tell how HIGH that door is!!!?????
And this stone on the right… we should have taken a picture WITH it.  It is about 2 stories high!!
All that carving, and details, on a stone that is  THAT big.  and so well preserved.

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Can you feel how HUGE this place is?? this photo was NOT even taken with any super wide angle camera.
Basically i am standing under one gate… and that roof is really sooooo far from the this gate in the picture!

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This was really a once-in-a-lifetime visit.  I feel very very lucky and blessed to be able to see all this and on a beautiful blue sky day.  There were a LOT of people.  A lot of tourist groups.  But i didn’t mind at all.  I could FEEL their amazement right next to me.  Looking around, their hearts bursting with amazement, and fiddling with their iPhones and selfie sticks on how to even begin to capture it all in one picture.  There were sooo many very old people (grandparents, great grandparents),  with their children.  And all their grown up kids who wanted a picture with their parent with the Forbidden City background.  I could feel it was such a dream come true for those grandparents.  I vividly remember one old man who could barely walk, got out of his wheel chair just to take a few pics standing with his children, before getting back into his wheel chair.

Oh, and even before we entered the Forbidden City, we walked through the entire  Tian An Men Square – it is SOOOO HUGE.  There were SO MANY people, and yet it felt empty because it was THAT huge! We were SO lucky to have beautiful weather – really blue skies, a cool breeze, not at all hot, just absolutely pleasant.

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It seems weird to have seating in those huge squares – but it was absolutely necessary.
It was so huge, and the seats were much needed for senior and children.

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Just one of the many crazy intricate ceilings.

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there were about hundreds of such alleys.  Some of them were locked out for tourists.
I mean… just imagine how any people are needed to guard each alley in those days.

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That stunning door….. really exactly what i would imagine for an Emperor’s palace but even MORE.

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Details, details, details.

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Every roof had these intricate carvings.

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This exhibition of clocks required a separate entrance fee of about 20RMB.
I remember hesitating… i mean… how fancy can i clock be, right??

well.  these people could imagine, and then BUILD these clocks.  they were often as gifts.
They were famous clock makers from England, that set up a base in China and trained the Chinese.
Pretty amazing, and absolutely stunning craftsmanship.  There were easily about a 100 clocks like these.
And some of them were the size of a human or two! 

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All the doors were so high…. height of 2 tall humans

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We ended the evening with dinner at 四季民福烤鸭店, number 1 on Beijing on Dian Ping.  It was DELICIOUS and CHEAP.  Definitely can’t eat for that quality for that cost in Shanghai, no matter local or beijing food! We were lucky as we went straight after the Forbidden City (there is one just about 10 mins drive), so it was around 6.30.  An hour later there were about 60 people waiting in line!  I liked that the place felt so local – only Chinese both Beijing and all over China, and only a handful of foreigners.  And of course… again, i saw a picture of that pig liver parts and again ordered one… and it was so good… cooked beijing style with wine too!  I do hope we have a chance to come to Beijing again, if just to eat the Beijing Duck!

Have you visited the Forbidden City in Beijing?  How did you find it?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

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Before roasting (left), and after roasting… it is really that fresh,
and it goes straight from the oven to your table side for slicing.

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The most delicious yet CHEAPEST Beijing Duck i’ve EVER eaten!!!!!
AAAhhh it was so good i wish we ate it twice.  Especially at that deal!
And i love how each person gets their own whole TRAY of sauces and veggies!
The duck’s skin was SUPER DUPER CRISPY NO KIDDING!!!! OH MY.

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You could see them roast it right there… see all those ducks hanging in there?

TIPS

Restaurant we ate at (clean, chance to look at the roasting ducks, and absolutely great value for price and quality: 四季民福烤鸭店 There are many branches and all taxi drivers knew them!

Another rest, more high end but we didn’t get a chance to go: 大董

Take note that the Forbidden City is closed on Mondays!  And on peak days (red holidays), foreigners need to buy tickets online otherwise you might not get a ticket if the quota has been reached!

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