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Published: November 17th 2014
Our LeaderWinging our Way Back to Beijing – Tian'anmen Square, Forbidden City and the Beijing Opera
Shu Fey and Jean in the Forbidden City
We left our super nice hotel in Wuhan in the dark for our early flight to Beijing. Just as the sun was coming up we passed by hundreds of acres of ponds along the highway where farmers were growing lotus flowers. The flowers and the roots are used in cooking. Cope really got into eating lotus roots on this trip. He found them pretty tasty.
Once again, we found a new, modern airport with lots of high end shops and restaurants. Through security and on to the long walk to our gate. We got to the airport in good time, so once at the gate we had about an hour or so to read and rest. I headed off with one of the other women to just peruse the shops. Really beautiful things if you’re into $500 blouses and $700 shoes ;-) Great fun looking at beautiful things.
We boarded a new China Eastern Airbus for a 1 hour and 40 minute flight back to Beijing. The flight was peaceful, and once again, we were served a
The Forbidden City
full breakfast. In Beijing we gathered our luggage in baggage claim, took it to the street and lined it up for the truck to take it to the hotel. I must say that since we lug our own bags around most of the time, this is really nice to have someone else do it! ;-)
We boarded our bus with our wonderful guide Shu Fey (she may be young but she’s like our mother ;-) takes care of everything) for our tour of the Forbidden City and Tian'anmen Square. Our bus driver tries to find a spot to double part and let us off… he succeeds and we scramble off the bus over a lane of traffic to the safety of the sidewalk ;-) With Shu Fey breaking traffic we hustle across a 6 lane boulevard to Tiananmen Square.
Tian'anmen is the largest public square in the world-it is huge and was built in the early 15th
century and used for over 500 years by 24 emperors through 2 dynasties’… the Ming and Qing. One of the 6 Forbidden City Gates is at the end of the Square. You walk under a gigantic photo
of Chairman Mao order to enter the ForbiddenCity. This was their home when they ruled the kingdom of China. It is called the “Forbidden City” because the emperors were not allowed to leave this place and Nor were any of the ordinary people except, the Emperors family, concubines or servants, allowed to enter the Forbidden City.
When the Cultural Revolution came, the Forbidden City and Square were converted to public use. Today, it is a huge public square with buildings and hundreds of tourists. The square was full of people from all over the world. The Forbidden City is the exact center of Beijing. Parts of the movie “The Last Emperor” was actually shot in the Forbidden City.
After passing through the courtyards of the Forbidden City we walked through the emperor’s gardens located along the moat that surrounds the Forbidden City and Square. Some 30,000 people visit every day so it was crowded. But even more people visit on special holidays.
Once again our bus is somewhere in Beijing, but we do not know where ;-), so Shu Fey gets on her cell phone to see where our driver had
to park. Hummm, seems he is a few blocks away but could not park. So…we will take our lives in our hands and cross traffic and walk to a specific corner that only he and Shu Fey know about. Our driver will whip down the street, double park in the intersection close to us and 22 of us will jump on ;-) Sounds like a plan ;-)
At our hotel for a rest, our luggage that we left 8 days ago is in our room when we arrive along with the luggage from the airport. We love Shu Fey… we are bringing her home with us- LOL.
For dinner, we went 15 minutes away to a Marriott Hotel. it was really cold in the hotel and was our first experience with no heat available in many places in Beijing.
After dinner part of the Beijing Opera Company performed for us-not an entire opera-but a few scenes, 4 in fact. There were 4 different tour groups in attendance and Shu Fey acted as Master of Ceremonies and explained the stories to us beforehand so we were able to follow the entire sequence of the opera. There was music, singing, dancing, kung fu, drums and a small percussion and strings group accompanying the performance. The music was very discordant to our ears but the overall performance was wonderful. It was fascinating to watch. We were able to take pictures with the performers afterwards.
This has been such a quick and amazing 7 days. It went by soooo fast. Tomorrow is our last day. We will visit the Temple of Heaven and head for the ship, 3 hours away in Xingang, near Tianjin. Next: Day 8 Temple of Heaven and the Sapphire Princess cruise ship!
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