China Trip – Day 14

Beijing : Tiananmen Square with Gate of Heavenly Peace, Forbidden City (Imperial Palace), Pearl shop, Summer Palace, and Peking Duck dinner. Weather: Cloudy with smog (can’t see sun), 45* in AM & 79* in PM

We get up at 6 and have breakfast and leave on the bus at 7:30. Our first stop is at Tiananmen Square – the largest public plaza in the world – built at the height of the Ming Dynasty. The square’s Gate of Heavenly Peace was once used as a staging ground for imperial edicts and by Mao Zedong himself to declare the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949. There are four different areas surrounding the square, including a large statue in front of government building, a large tower for Tiananmen Square, Square’s Gate of Heavenly Peace (Mao Zedong), and the National Museum of China.

Large statue sculpture on Tiananmen Square
Rick in Tiananmen Square in front of tower.
Tower in Tiananmen Square.
Looking across Tiananmen Square to the Gate of Heavenly Peace, thru the smog.
Guards on duty in front of entrance.
Me in front of the entrance to the square’s Gate of Heavenly Peace.
Rick in Tiananmen Square by the Gate of Heavenly Peace (Mao Zedong)
On the fourth side of Tiananmen Square is the National Museum of China. Hard to get clear pictures with all the smog today, it is an alert day with it over 230, I think.
So we leave Tiananmen Square with the China flag waving high,
and push on with the rest of the crowd of people entering the Forbidden City/Imperial Palace (until 1912) thru the Gate of Heavenly Peace.
Frank tells us this is a quiet day with only about 30,000 people, usually 80,000 people visit in a day!
Rubbing buttons of stone on gateway for “good luck”.
The crowds and smog (thus the masks) in the Forbidden City.
The Forbidden City is a walled community with a moat around it.
Rick and John in fore ground in Forbidden City. It has over 800 buildings – for the Emperor and all his family, concubines and servants.
Showing some of the architecture, Three Front Halls was constructed on 3-terraced marble foundations.
UP close of the dragon head drainpipes on the foundations of the Three Front Halls.
The Golden Throne in the Hall of Supreme Harmony. (Not easy to get this shot over the heads of hundreds of people in front of me!)

I was intrigued with ‘people watching’ while in the crowds.

Native Chinese people from other places in China wearing their native clothes, but note the ‘tour hats’, placed over their own head wear!
We pass behind this group of Chinese ladies. (Arlene, Nancy, and John in back)
I liked this Chinese gentleman
and this little Chinese boy.
I guess we were as interesting to them as they were to us!
Outside of the Palace of Gathering Excellence.
Large bronze vats to hold water to use to put out fires if they should occur.
Bronze dragon playing with ball in the yard of Palace of Gathering Excellence.

Next we saw some of the furnishings inside the Palace of Gathering Excellence, which was the residence for imperial concubines. The Empress Dowager Cixi lived here.

Difficult to get clear pictures because we weren’t allow in but had to look through windows and the glare was bad. But you can get the idea of the fine furnishings.

Some of the carvings on roofs and the side of buildings:

We go to the Summer Palace after lunch. It was the resort of the Empress Dowager.
A portrait of Empress Dowager Cixi, also know as “Dragon Lady”, the only Empress of China.
An actual photo of Empress Dowager Cixi before she died. (1835-1908)
We walk down a long covered walkway which was covered with pretty paintings.
We ended up at the ‘cement boat’.

It has been a very full day and is time to head back to the hotel. On our way to the bus we pass some stands with local delicacies:

And sugared fruit on a stick, a little more to my tasting!

On our way back to the hotel we stop at a pearl shop. They have pearl necklaces for as much as $6,000. Once again I just window shop. We make it back to the hotel with an hour before going to a ‘Farewell Dinner’ for those not going on to Hong Kong, about 2/3’s of the group. Dinner featured China’s famous Peking Duck!

Chef carving the duck.
Duck, duck sauce, cucumber, and bean sprouts – all served together in very thin crepes – very tasty! Add another 12 dishes and finish with lemon tarts, apple fritters, and fresh fruit.

We say good byes, go to our room to pack everything up to fly to Hong Kong in AM. Get to bed by 10.