Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Forbidden City

After wandering around Tiananmen Square, we went into the Forbidden City. This is the entrance, which seemed to also be called Tiananmen. I over-saturated this photo because I wanted everything red. :)

Just outside the gates, there were tons of people offering their services as guides. When we turned down one man he said, "Ahh, I see you do not care about history. You make a big mistake." That might not sound very funny until you go back and read it in your best Chinese accent. I bought an audio guide to prove that I do care about history.

On the flight home from Beijing, I watched the new Karate Kid, which takes place in Beijing and presents a highly idealized version of the place. In the scene when his school visits the Forbidden City, they run through the huge red doors into a beautiful and empty palace. There was nothing empty about the Forbidden City. It was crammed to the gills. Here are the entry doors. You rub the golden spheres for good luck.

As always, there were many lions festooning the place.

And many people to boot.
I didn't see most of the throne rooms, as there were so many people shoving and pushing to see them. It was a Chinese mosh pit to see the Throne of Supreme Harmony. It did not feel very harmonious. After being elbowed by several old men, I gave up.
The halls were all named things such as "Hall of Heavenly Peace" or "Ultimate Tranquility" or "Presevering Harmony." Unfortunately, the harmony has definitely not presevered. It looked like it once was a lovely place, until they let us commoners in.

The buildings all had animal sculptures lining the roofs. The more monkeys, the more prestigious the building. This is the most important building.
There were many interesting gateways.
We next went to the Garden of Supreme Elegance or Peace or Unity or Something Like That, where Chinese and French people shouted, pushed, and bustled. Here is where the Empress would write her poetry. And where the Emporer would choose from a line of 14-year-old concubines.
This is where the emporer would take said concubines. The rocks were caves you could explore and water would be piped through to create waterfalls.
My favorite part of the Forbidden City was the gift shop. Have I really become one of those people? I guess so. It was a lovely break from all the Supremeness. Overall, the Forbidden City was crowded, noisy, and unpleasant. I couldn't leave fast enough. And it wasn't only grumpy, introverted me that felt that way. Though we hadn't explored the many side streets and buildings of the City, which were no doubt more pleasant than the thoroughfare, we just wanted to go home.

After a rest at the hotel, we went out shopping for the afternoon. My sister, Tara, had asked me to buy her a statue in China, but all I had found up until that time was gaudy dragons, fat Buddhas, and huge cabbages. So I finally found a beautiful statue that, in my stupor after all the harmony, I paid a ridiculous amount for. I am officially not allowed to ever shop when traveling again. I make questionable choices. We also had this man write our names in Chinese. Or maybe he wrote "stupid white prostitute." I don't know, but I'm going to hang it on my wall.
For dinner, Kelly and I were too tired to go out, so we decided to eat at the hotel instead. We perused the menu for something light and saw things like, "Air Dry Pig Face," "Pig Ear Strips," and "Pig Feet Soup." Luckily, these all came with pictures, which helped us make our decision.

I had scrambled egg won tons which were delicious, if greasy. The majority of my food in China seemed very greasy, so I came home feeling myself like a greased pig. I also got a little pot of jasmine tea, which was divine on my throat, as by this time I had contracted the Asian Flu of Supreme Elegance.

I flew home the next day in a fog of Supreme Disharmony and collapsed at home in bed for four days straight.


Sweet J said...

This was good and made me laugh. Seems the Chinese are just as adept at commercializing their heritage as we are.

Tara said...

Your pictures are amazing even though there are kajillions of people there. I can't wait to see my birthday present that you overpaid for! You should have used the skills you acquired when bartering as a little girl in Juarez:)

Amber said...

Tara, if I recall correctly, I paid $25 for the dress in Juarez that probably should have cost $5. :)

Steph said...

You make me laugh. Loved reading about your adventures:).

barleygreen said...

...ah, so sorry grasshopper.

Anonymous said...

What great, honest commentary. I can see why China restricts what you can write. Someone might say something truthful.(I am referring to all of your bolgs.) NV

Sam said...

I remembered that you have a blog and I visited it tonight... I hope you are still feeling better after coming back from China.

Gillion said...

Have you tried dumplings and roast ducks? They are the famous and traditional Beijing dieshes. And also bird's nest soup? Its a delicacy in China.

Enjoy your days~~~