Day 2 in Beijing was the first official day of our tour. Included in our great deal from ChinaSpree was breakfast at the hotel every morning. There were options of Western as well as Chinese meals and coffee and tea and juice. Needless to say, breakfast really became the most important part of this trip with the very long hours of tours.
Day 2 was a tour of Beijing’s imperial treasures; Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. I would suggest reading more about each of these in detail on Wikipedia.
Tiananmen Square is a large city square in the center of Beijing named after the Tiananmen Gate (Gate of Heavenly Peace) located to its North, separating it from the Forbidden City. Tiananmen Square is the third largest city square in the world covering 109 acres and capable of holding a million people. Many people come to visit Chairman Mao’s Mausoleum or take a picture under the famed portrait of Chairman Mao. Mao is the founding father of the People’s Republic of China established in 1949. The beginning of the People’s Republic of China also marked the end of the Qing Dynasty with Emperor Puyi as the last emperor (more on him later and also check out the 1987 drama The Last Emporer directed by Bernardo Bertolucci).
There was a wicked cold breeze throughout the day and Kalindra and I had to get very creative with our scarves. Needless to say, people were staring at us and a few asked to take our picture.
The Forbidden City is a 9,999 room compound where the 24 emperors of the Ming And Qing Dynasties ruled for nearly 500 years. Although the 9,999 rooms is more of an oral tradition as the celestial emperor is said to have 10,000 rooms and thus the emperor could have one room less. The actual number of rooms is 8,886. In 1987, UNESCO considered the Forbidden City a World Heritage site as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world.
Yellow is the color of the emperor and thus all the roofs will be yellow in the Forbidden City. You will not find this color roof anywhere else except at the Beijing Temple of Confucius. Emperor Puyi was a young emperor that liked to ride his bike throughout the palace. The thresholds often got in his way and he would ask them to be removed which was against tradition. One of the buildings where he liked to ride his bike “accidentally” burned down one day, and many say this allowed the evil spirits into the palace and this is the reason Puyi was the last emperor of China.
After an incredibly interesting day, we had the evening off and once again, Ian came to the rescue with his girlfriend Leslie, and took us out for hotpot at Haidilao. If you have never tried hotpot then I suggest you find one in your area as it is absolutely amazing!
Baijiu is a Chinese liquor distilled from sorghum. You have to taste it to understand it but Ian insisted that we try it.
Chinese lesson of the day – When looking for a man they must have the 4C’s: Car, Career, Credit Card and Condo