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Tiananmen Square...The Forbidden City and Chinese food tastes like Chinese food.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Tiananmin square…HUGE!! And all 1.9 Billion Chinese residents happen to be there on the day we visited. I had my first official "being trampled by a crowd" experience in Tianamin square. No apologies, just squish the American. What could I say…so I just growled really loud at everyone who was pushing me into the wall (which sadly only added to the 'Crazy Americans' reputation..sorry everyone). It's amazing how much you panic when you realize that you've lost control in a crowd.

Tiananmen Square Guard

The funny thing is that at times, the square would empty out for a short while, until the next massive wave of tourists poured through. 

Tiananmen Square in Bejing China

Anyway, Tianamin (by the way..really hard to type) square was quite a site.This is the largest square in the word at something like 90 acres and according to our tour guide, can fit 250,000 people (you mean like right now??). There were many things going on in this square which mainly consisted of thousands of Chinese tourists from other provinces who had rarely traveled outside of their hometowns (according to Cindy..our tour guide). 

Tiananmen Square Chinese tourist group in front of large LCD screen

What this resulted in though, was our picture being taken over and over again by the cutest people who would sneak around and run off. When we posed for a picture, ourselves, they would sneak behind and around us and have their relatives take pictures of them with us. It was quite comical. Cindy fed us some line about Americans being so "interesting" and "exciting" to the people from other provinces…but I think they were just taking our pictures home to show their friends how goofy Americans look. 

Tiananmen Square in Bejing China, Military Officer

You may remember that Tiananmin square was the site of the student protests a number of years ago pertaining to human rights, freedoms etc…and unfortunately many students were killed. The number of deaths were suppressed by the government. According to Cindy though, it seems that things have improved somewhat.

Tiananmen Square in Beijing China, School Group

Tiananmin square was really hard to photograph (it's a 90 acre piece of concrete people) and most pictures were nothing but gangs of tour groups in red hats, purple hats, green hats…you get the idea. So, I have put some in the albums which you can see the large red posts that are decorated in front of the Great Hall of the People (where the communist party meets).

The Entrance to the Forbidden City in Bejing China

Tiananmin square, sits at the beginning of the entrance to The Forbidden City. It took us a short while to reach the entrance through more crowds of people. I thought that the Forbidden City was going to be sort of big, but I didn't realize that it actually goes on for building after building after square after square. In fact, it took us two hours to walk through it. 

The Forbidden City in Beijing, China

TFC is beautiful and was the place where all the Emperors of China lived over many years (back to the 1500's I think). If I remember correctly, it took 15,000 servants to run TFC and no one was allowed in unless they were invited, not even high officials. Cindy kept proudly telling us about the 3000 concubines that the emperor had and how he would often have to be reminded that there was official business to tend to and for pity sake, leave those concubines alone for a while. If a concubine would act up or displease the emperor, he would have her poisoned.

Inside The Forbidden City in Beijing China

I would imagine that it would be terribly easy to get lost in this place if one wanted to.There were lots of stairways that were carved out of solid marble and adorned with various animal carvings that had significance. It was a bright, sunny morning when i was there, so it was hard to get any good photos without them being overexposed. I did the best that i could in the circumstances.

Inside the Forbidden City in Beijing China

By now, I've been in China for a number of days and have eaten a number of meals.What surprised me though was that Chinese food in China... is actually Chinese food.How is that for logic? I guess what I expected was something completely different. I have been to Asia before, but in Hong Kong, for instance, the dishes were mainly noodles with a few exotic extras. However, in mainland China, each dish that was served up seemed to be identical to what we eat in the states. Sweet and sour chicken, tofu dishes, beef and broccoli, spring rolls etc… I guess the only real difference is that they seem to serve most meals "Family Style". Meaning that everything is shared at the table, and most of the time the food keeps coming. 

Inside the Forbidden City in Beijing China

Even though I generally eat with chopsticks (as this is normal in China) I did notice that they are willing to bring  you a fork and spoon if needed. As a heads up, it is not normal to receive a napkin while eating a meal in China. I have not figured out how they keep from using them, but if you want one you had better keep a few in your pocket. This is also typical in bathrooms after you wash your hands….there are no paper towels. Some places have hand dryers if you're lucky. How was that for a transition from The Forbidden City to drying your hands in the bathroom?

Inside the Forbidden City in Beijing China 

So far, I haven't found China to be expensive. I suppose if you're from a midwest state, it might seem a little higher,but it is comparable to California or New York as far as food prices and accommodations go. Our hotel in Beijing was amazing. We ended up in a beautiful place which had a great view. I think it was called "The Gloria". I have to say though that the buffet in the hotel was a bit pricey at $40 per person, but when you're tired at night and don't feel like roaming the
streets, it's the only option.

View from Gloria Hotel in Beijing

There were lots of amazing shops in Beijing which lined a street close to our hotel. It ran for many city blocks and seemed to be very trendy with mainly a young crowd. Lots of flashy signs, boutique cafes and expensive clothing stores. I felt very safe in Beijing and would never hesitate walking around the city. Although we weren't too far from the Olympic village, we didn't really spend much time there. I managed to snap a couple of night shots of the "Water Cube" as
we drove by. It was a pretty amazing area that covered quite a large space.

I have posted the rest of my Tianamen Square pictures HERE, and my Forbbiden City pictures
are HERE.


Anonymous said...

Referred over here from cruise critics. Wonderful photos and commentary. Looking forward to having a chance to really going through all info. Looks like we;re going to have a fantastic time inChina. Thanks for all your input. Sunniedays

Luther Bailey said...

Hi, Sunniedays! Thanks so much for the compliments! It's fun sharing my travel experiences and I hope that some of the information helps with your trip. I'll be adding more countries soon.

Thanks again! Luther

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