Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Beijing, The Forbidden City and Great Wall

In order to see all the sights of Beijing in a day I got up at 3 AM.  We left the ship at 6 AM since we had to port in Tinjin and make our way to Beijing.

Traveling through Tinjin I was struck by how all the buildings look alike.  That similarity is found throughout the city, repetitive architecture.

We rode the bus for about 90 minutes via their interstate and I was amused by their pictorial road signs, very descriptive.


Then we caught the bullet train for the 35 minute ride to Beijing. 

The haze you see in my photos is the smog and it is really bad, everyone was coughing sporadically.

We rode around the city which is a mixture of new and old, lots of traffic and people.

Here are the new parts of the city.....

And here are the old.....

This building is the  mausoleum that houses the embalmed remains of Mao Tse Tung which is in a glass case for all to see.  Apparently 30,000 visitors a day go to see the body of their honored leader.

And this is the infamous Tiannamen Square......


After our tour around the city, it was off to see the Forbidden City.

This place is huge.  During its use no one was allowed in or out and it is a maze of squares, rooms, temples, etc spreading as far as the eye can see.  If you saw the movie The Last Emperor you get a very good idea of the size and scope of the place.

It was absolutely jammed with tourists, most of which were Chinese and it was chaotic.  The Chinese are accustomed to the crowds and bump and push their way through not meaning any offense, it is just the way it is.

I am putting  a series of pictures in just so you can get the feel for the place.  Those two hours there absolutely wore us out.

This place just goes on and on......

There are only a few remaining rooms with artifacts remaining.  This is where the emperor would receive guests.....

This is the area where the concubines hung out.  Unfortunately if you were only with the emperor just one time, you were never allowed to ever leave again.  However, if he never slept with you, you were allowed to go free after he died.

And this is the unusual Imperial Garden.....

To say going through this place was chaotic would be an understatement.....

Then we were off to a fabulous lunch in the Dim Sum tradition with a rotating lazy susan in the middle and numerous entrees.  They even accommodated my vegetarianism.

There was a jade shop owned by the government there so of course Carolyn and I spent our money on gifts.  And of course as soon as we got back to the ship we checked to see if we got our monies worth.  We maybe spent $100 too much but accepted defeat.

Then it was on to the Great Wall of China.  Let me tell you that is one difficult wall to climb.  The steps are very steep and uneven, worn in many places.  I have to admit that Carolyn and I took three steps up and down and said we climbed the Great Wall.  That was it for us.  The young crew members on board the ship climbed up it a ways and the next day were all complaining how badly their legs hurt.  No wonder that wall protected the Chinese people.  The mere differential and height of the steps would make it hard for an enemy to cross it.  However it is an incredible engineering feat hundreds of years old that is considered one of the Wonders of the World!

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