Published: May 26th 2010May 22nd 2010
Big, isn't it? View from Jingchang Park.
I finally made it to the Forbidden City today and was, frankly, disappointed. I have two
theories why this is: one, because the architecture is very similar to that of the Summer
Palace and, having spoken with people who saw the Forbidden City first and then were
disappointed with the Summer Palace, I believe that you are impressed by whichever one you
see first and then let down by the second. The Forbidden City was certainly vast and the
sheer size was impressive, but it was also a detracting point as I found it hard to navigate
and quite samey in places. My second theory is that the immense crowds and heat detracted
from the experience for me, especially as I was quite tired today.
Anyway, I saw the sights and it was very impressive. I particularly liked the Imperial
Gardens, which were rocky (as, it seems, most Chinese gardens are) but green and tranquil
(if you can ignore the hordes of tourists).
After the palace, I met up with my dormmates and we went to the Night Market - a series of
Forbidden City - Main Audience Hall
Designed to impress. And make you feel really, really small.
selling everything and anything, including some 'traditional' dishes to amuse
unwitting tourists. I obligingly tried snake and my friends had grubs, and then we ate real
food. Imagine a series of eager but canny market sellers, desperate to sell you anything
that can conceivably be put on a stick at an extortionate price. But the atmosphere was
great fun (as long as you asked the price first, as I learnt to my cost) and some of the
dishes (eg starfish and seahorse) were,,,interesting.
We took the long way home, via a teahouse where a charming but shy lady made us copious
amounts of Jasmine tea. Apparently the training for tea service is 3 years, but, having
witnessed the ceremony in its full glory (and complexity) I can well understand that.
After drinking tea, we drank in the sights of Beijing by night. There is a poster of Jet Li
advertising milk along one of the bigger roads in Beijing. It always seems incongruous to
me because, depsite the fact that he's done some comedies, I think of Jet Li as a serious
Actor / director and
not as someone who drinks milk...
There are more photos below