Thursday, January 04, 2007

Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square

After checking into the hotel and freshening up from our night of travel, we walked over to the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. The distance is relatively short, about 20 minutes. Because of our dress and look, we always seem to attract everyone trying to give us a private tour of the city, invite us to a school art show or sell us some worthless junk. I have learned to just not even respond. Sometimes they will just walk away. If you respond, they will walk and talk your ear off from blocks. Once they realize they have lost the battle, they will drift away to and seek out another tourist.

Jim declining a private tour

We entered The Forbidden City and were amazed at the size and beauty of the many buildings.

The architecture and vivid colors are astounding. The photos do not do it justice.

Though there were quite a few people, we are sure that the summer months bring much larger crowds.

The grounds were covered with small amounts of snow and the gardens were barren. I can't imagine what the gardens look like in the spring and summer when in full bloom.

We walked through on one side and returned on the opposite side.

As we were walking, the thoughts of being so far away from home, in such a historical place, finally hit you. Planning such a trip becomes such a strange reality once you are here and walk these grounds.

Below are a few photos, to give a brief glimpse of our day. The photos are hazy due to the heavy fog that is present.

Tiananmen Square is located directly across the street from the Forbidden City. The vast size of the square seems to go on for miles.

Below are a few photos, to give a brief glimpse of our day. The photos look as though fog is present, but we believe that it is smog.

Entrance to Forbidden City


View of Tiananmen Square from the Forbidden City

Tiananmen Square

Countdown board for 2008 Olympics

After walking for over 3 hours we returned to the hotel for lunch.

Enroute, as with everytime you are outside, it is common to see people spitting. At first it is surprising, but is quite common. Not just men, but women also participate in this habit. If you click on the highlight above, it will give you an explanation. (When we were in Cairo, we were worried about the camels spitting on you. At least in Cairo, the camels were not walking next to you on the street.)

We had dinner at The Courtyard, which is located on a small street at the east gate of the Forbidden City. Jim had stuffed chicken breast with curry and I had Black Cod (a mild great tasting fish)

The hotel bar is always a great place for us to stop and have a nightcap. Last night an all female band was playing. There sound was unique, and quite fitting for the room. When we were in Shanghai, there also was a female band in the hotel bar. What was odd is that both bands seem to enjoy playing and singing Smooth Operator. Though both bands sing the words with the same pronunciation: SMOOZ Operator.

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