Second day in Beijing.
My second day in Beijing will be focused on the legendary Forbidden City. Yesterday, on my way to Tian An Men square I was near its entrance gate so I know already where it is. Today weather is still fine so I will walk. On my stroll I cross peaceful areas off the beaten path. This district is made of hutongs as well with a small stream running in the middle of it. Riverside is very well kept. My attention is drawn by a sign in Chinese and English belonging to an association in defence of dogs. For a moment I think to use the photo of it for a joke, pretending that I took it outside a restaurant serving dog dishes. Seriously speaking about this topic I have to say that, in my opinion, this issue is highly overrated in the West. It is likely not a hoax but, at least in Beijing, none still eats dogs and actually this is the most popular pet nowadays. Another stereotype seems to be “Beijing crowd”. I still didn’t see it. Probably I need to go in modern districts. I realise I have still a lot to see, including the Great Wall of China, and only two more days to spend in town according to my plan. While I’m deep in these thoughts I reach the Forbidden City ticket office.
Visit of Forbidden City.
Queue for tickets is reasonable, only 15 minutes waiting, but is quite ‘dangerous’. Why? Because of the umbrellas. You should know that in Beijing umbrellas are widely used by women to protect from hot sun. Waiting in the queue I was surrounded by Chinese women and their umbrellas’ ribs exactly at the height of my face. Reached miraculously safe and sound the ticket booth I got a ticket for 60 yuan (7,5 Euro). Please keep in mind that is required to show passport so don’t forget it if you come here. Sky is now a bit hazy but I won’t complain. It is time to enter the Forbidden City or, as it is called here, the Palace Museum. This was the imperial palace until an empire actually existed, in 1912. The entire area, we’re talking about almost one square kilometre, was at that time closed to ordinary people. Some part of the palace was only for the emperor, his wife and the concubines while other buildings out of a total of 980 located within the city walls were used by administration officers working during their daily business. The palace must be visited going from south to north so, I join the flow and I get it through the Meridian Gate. As soon as I enter I understand that my visit will take a long time. In front of me there is the Gate of Supreme Harmony huge but nevertheless it takes less than one third of the width of the city. Those gates, as the gate of heavenly peace that I’ve visited yesterday are not made of an arch as we can imagine. They are huge buildings now hosting collections of historical items. For now I decide to go around the gates, first on left side then, on the way back here, on the right. Visit of the city goes through beautiful gardens with marble bridges similar to the one I saw in the circular city, strange sculptures and buildings particularly remarkable for their decorations. It is the Chinese architecture at its highest level. Within the site there are at least two more museums requiring an additional ticket of 10 yuan: the treasure gallery and the house of clocks. The treasure gallery is actually made of three different exhibition sites having the usual solemn Chinese names such as: Hall of Spiritual Cultivation, Hall of Joyful Longevity and Belvedere of Well-Nourished Harmony. Treasure gallery is a must due to incredible gold, silver or jade exhibits. Also the buildings are very beautiful. By the way, I forgot to say that Forbidden City buildings are mostly built with wood. I actually loved more the house of clocks. Here you will find wonderful items, mostly built in Europe even if some was made within the imperial court. At specific hours, clocks are playing and this is really a show. Their complex mechanisms makes me remind my memories goes to the peacock clock I’ve seen in Hermitage Museum. After the visit to these two additional galleries I keep visiting the immense site. Having seen the two sides now I’m pointing north crossing the central part of the city. One gate after the other, with my eyes full of images of statues, decorations, flags, lanterns. Now, after more than four hours spent in the city I have to say I’m bit tired. I need to see something new. I quickly gain the northern gate (Gate of Divine Might) where is located the exit and I get out. And now?This post continues to next page