One of my friends put me in touch with some former classmates of hers—Ice and Tool (thanks Vivi!), and we met them for dinner after our arrival in Beijing. Over a hot pot dinner, we talked about our own country’s food, American culture, life in China, our dreams, our experiences and more. It is these type of discussions that always emphasize to me that despite being from different countries and cultures, people are much more alike then we are different.
Rising early the next morning and under a bitterly cold, crystal blue sky, we headed off in a crammed green and yellow taxi to explore Beijing. The Forbidden City, also known as the Imperial Palace is a structure of buildings located in the center of Beijing, last serving in its role as the center of the Chinese empire in the Ming and Qing Dynasties (The Qing was the last of the imperial dynasties in China, ending in 1912). The enclave of buildings that make up the Forbidden City is comprised of more than 800 buildings and I am told it is the largest collection of wooden preserved buildings in the world—-and its huge. It’s name is derived from the fact that during the dynasty rule, only the emperor and his family were allowed inside—this rule has since been relaxed and the The Forbidden City now serves as one of the most visited and famous landmarks in all of China. Across the street is Tiananmen Square, most famous in the west for the events of 1989, but also the site of many famous happenings in Beijing history.
I’ve posted some photos from our visit below. Also, I’ve added a few links to a couple of really cool panoramic photos:
- Andy’s Forbidden City photos (or click the photo below)
- Here is a Quicktime 360 degree panorama of the inner palace of The Forbidden City.
- Here is a panorama taken from atop the Tiananmen Gate of The Forbidden, looking south (this is basically shot from right above Chairman Mao’s portrait, that can be seen in my photo gallery with the cow.)
Late in the morning, we boarded a bus to take us 1.5 hours to see what would turn out to be one of the places that really blew me away—and probably my favorite tourist attraction on my trip so far—The Great Wall of China. Photos and stories from there in the next post…