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.
The buildings all had animal sculptures lining the roofs. The more monkeys, the more prestigious the building. This is the most important building.
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.
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.