Day By Day

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Return to China -- Part 2, The Forbidden City

Of course once we were in Beijing a visit to the Forbidden City was practically mandatory. It seems to be the starting point for nearly every tour, so early on the morning of our first full day in China we were up and on our way there. In the past we had entered the Forbidden City through the South Gate which fronts on Tiananmen Square and immediately found ourselves in one of the city's famous immense courtyards [here]. This time, however, we came in through the North Gate and entered the more intimate environs of the imperial residences.

Here's our local guide, "Susanna", who showed us through the complex.

And here is a picture of "Gavin", our national guide who stayed with us throughout the trip.

Both of them were pleasant, competent, and quite helpful. Gavin in particular proved to be invaluable to us later in the trip.

Most of the pictures taken in the Forbidden City feature the immensity of the place -- 9999 rooms including huge courtyards. Indeed these were what had impressed me on our first visit. But this time I chose to focus on smaller details, like this ornate gate through which we entered the imperial compound.

Or this elaborately decorated roof,

Or these stones decorating a walkway,

Or this pomegranate decoration on a door,

Or a lonely plant clinging to these roof tiles,

Or even some chipped paint on a doorway,

And of course I had to take a picture of this mama lion -- everybody seems to.

Since we were there, I might as well include a look inside one of the rooms of the royal residences. Nice to look at, but it doesn't seem very comfortable.

And, because it is expected, here a a shot of one of the courtyards. Impressive, no?

As we were leaving we passed these guys on their way in. I'm not sure what their purpose was, and couldn't stick around to find out.

A final glance back as we left the Forbidden City and went on to our next stop, Tiananmen Square, right across the street.

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