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The Forbidden City within Beijing, China

Back in the days of the emperors, entering the forbidden city would cost you your head. Today, it will cost you about 10 bucks.

Entrance to the Forbidden City

This is the main entrance for tourists today.

Here are a few factoids about the Forbidden City provided by China Highlights Tours.

  • It is the world’s biggest ancient palace.
  • It is considered to be among the world’s top 5 most important palaces.
  • China’s most popular single site tourist attraction.
  • The structure is almost 600 years old.
  • Home of dynastic clans for 500 years.
  • A million articles are considered national heritage.
  • 1987 UNESCO World Heritage List
  • The largest collection of ancient wooden structures in the world.

That last factoid is important because they will not allow a person to take a lighter inside the city. You see, the brits occupied Beijing and out of some depraved idea of diplomacy, threatened to burn it down. Whatever their demands were, the Chinese agreed, and the fantastic ancient palace survived. Today, you are not allowed to have a lighter or matches past this gate.

Fire bucket in Forbidden City

When I saw this, I thought it one of the emperor’s hot tubs. But there are many of them in the city. They held water to fight a fire, if one broke out.


Forbidden City

I think this is the hall of Supreme Harmony. Although it could be the Hall of Central Harmony, The hall of Preserving Harmony, the palace of Heavenly Peace, the Palace of Union and Peace or the Palace of Terrestrial Tranquility

Forbidden City

Seven creatures on the roof makes this an important Hall of something.

The way to make sure that the hall you are looking at is more or less important than the last one you looked at is the count the creatures on the corners of the roofs. The more creatures, the more important the building.

door to Forbidden City

The fabulous movie, The Last Emperor was filmed here, Not even Hollywood could make a sound set big enough for this! If you remember the scene where the young emperor tossed his pet mouse against the door because he could not leave the city, this is the gate he tossed it against.



Forbidden City

The walkway of the painfully sprained ankle.

I will admit that the surface you were expected to tread was restored nicely, but some of it, like where you might want to go to get a good photo, were tread before you by emperors and Eunuchs for 600 years.

After a nice long visit, I started wondering where the Sacred Parking Lot of the Divine Air Conditioned Automobile was to take you to the Fabulous Restaurant of the Sumptuous Hot Pot. It takes a long time to visit the Forbidden City, and worth every minute.

That afternoon we got a small look at the real Beijing

Rickshaw ride

Well, ok, it was still a tourist thing to do, but a rickshaw ride seemed very apropo.

Back streets of Beijing

Our ride lasted about an hour. We were away from the high rises and the masses. In this neighborhood, there is no such thing as private restrooms. Every block had community restrooms, I had never seen that before, anywhere. In this photo you can see the pharmacy we stopped in. It had everything we needed, even the brand of test strips my wife needed, because our luggage had yet to arrive.

Peking Duck

Our dinner that night was something I had been looking forward to ever since we booked the trip, Peking Duck. I was going to be contrary and not call it Beijing Duck. No worries, they did not either. This is the promotional statue outside the restaurant. Ronald McDuck I guess. Interesting is that right next door was a real (one of hundreds in Beijing) McDonalds

Peking duckies

We were asked if we wanted a large duck or a small one. Only two of us, so we chose a small one. Lost in translation!


Peking Duck

When the real duck arrived it was what we expected.

Duck Head

To make the experience authentic, they served a duck head. We passed. Duck brains, I do not want.

The next day we visited the Summer palace, with the Garden of Virtue and Harmony. Great names for these places!

Summer Palace

This boat is made entirely from Marble. It cost the entire naval budget for a year. It sits on a manmade lake.

Dragon Boat

This is a dragon boat for tourists to cross the lake.

Summer Palace

This is the view from the boat of the summer palace. The entire lake was dug out by hand, and the hills beyond the palace is where they stacked the dirt. Oh the things you could do with unlimited manpower before the one child law!

Now it was time for us to get to the Beijing Capitol Airport for our flight to Xian. Our guide was fantastic, again. He sort of treated us like novice flyers Getting us to the check-in line, but that was his job. We were the first to check in. My bag went through a scanner and WHOO WHOO WHOO. FLASHING LIGHTS. ALARMS! Mary Ann asked me “did you do that?” “No I swear, there is nothing in my bag”. Our guide turned to me and asked “did you pack a lighter?” “In my check in bag? Yeah I guess I did.” The alarms kept screaming WHOO WHOO WHOO (really loudly) and the flashing red lights kept spinning until I retrieved my bag, opened it, dug through it and finally found the extremely dangerous lighter of the ignorant foreigner. By now, the line behind us was 15 deep, and everyone was wondering how I could be so ignorant. IN A CHECKED BAG! Welcome to China. I learned later that one major city in China is about to require a person REGISTER a lighter!

Well, we made it to Xian. The next post will be about the incredible Terracotta Warriors. Stay tuned. Share and comment please!

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