The Forbidden City is the largest surviving palace complex in the world. Formerly the Chinese Imperial Palace and forbidden from commoners (hence, Forbidden City), it was the residence of Chinese around 24 emperors for around 500 years! It is now one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Site.
I cannot begin to tell you how huge the complex is. I thought the Imperial Palace in Tokyo was huge, but this one is crazy huge! From the tour we learned a bit of how important the Forbidden City is to the Chinese. The tour guide told us, that for the Chinese, the Forbidden Palace is their Mecca. However far they are from Beijing, they must visit it at least once in a lifetime.
The bus dropped us somewhere and we had to walk to the complex ourselves. “Long walk” the tour guide cautioned us. I had to walk with a face mask because the air was too dusty and being asthmatic doesn’t help.
After minutes of walking, we saw the Tiananmen Square. One of the largest squares in the world, the plaza has been a site of many historical events.
And that’s the gate we have to pass through to get into the Forbidden City, with Mao Zedong’s portrait hung on top. The Forbidden City’s magnificence is hidden behind all that. I wish we could’ve gone to a higher spot, to catch a better view of the City.
The Tiananmen Square could hold to up to 1,000,000 people! Our tour guide also told us that it was the place where major protests were held, one of the worse being the 1989 protests, where around 3000 protesters were killed by the army. She added that blood was everywhere, so they had to re-tile the whole square.
I asked for permission prior to jumping. Just in case. You wouldn’t like seeing people jump in your Mecca, now, would you? The tour guide told me that it was completely fine.
Also, in Beijing, I think I’ve seen armies marching here and there- historical sites, or not. I’ve never seen anything like it. Pretty interesting…
After talking plenty of pictures at the Square, we had to use an underground walkway (I dared not take my camera out, it was packed with people) to reach the Forbidden Palace. A few hundred meters later, we were inside the Forbidden City.
But, but, but they were having some reconstructions and preservation works that time so I couldn’t take better pictures of it. In fact, the preservation works will last until 2012. Or was it 2015? So if you want to see the REAL Forbidden City, wait after that!
Anyway, we kept on walking and walking. Then, I saw policemen (or army) screaming, putting a guy down and kicking him. Not everyone cared to look though, so I thought, maybe this happens a bit regularly? I asked my tour guide about it.
“These things happen when someone is caught of stealing, cheating and such. If they know there’s such a person, the victim could just scream for help and (everyday) people would normally catch and beat this person”
Now if only I took a photo of that…
Anyway, we didn’t go through every gate of the City (see the map here). Just a few and we were told to catch this buggy so that we could go back to the streets.
That’s the red buggy! So many people are waiting to catch each of them, so you’ve got to be competitive when you want a seat. Forget (extra) good manners. It’s China!
We finally got on one. It was short, but the view was breathtaking.
I think my brother, Asna and I arrived to our meeting place the last. Everyone was more hard core than us (even our parents!) so they got on the earlier buggies. I think this ride cost me RM0.50. For real. China is pretty affordable. And I was on the phone with Reza.
We had to walk some more to the nearest Muslim restaurant. I camwhored along the way. I’ll spare the rest of the photos haha!
Someone was too tired and skinny Cikyong had to carry her halfway to the restaurant.