Beijing Trip Part 1: Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City

16 Mar

Tiananmen Square

My first holiday period of the year was what the Chinese call “Golden Week,” a sort of extended National Day celebration. Students get a break, and so do workers–and it takes place during the first week of October, which is the only time of year that Beijing isn’t scorching, freezing or covered in sand. So that explains how I wound up in Tiananmen Square (above) along with everyone else in China.

I’m a total fair-weather traveler. That week I was almost trampled to death, but the temperature was so mild! Success.

That’s me in the Forbidden City (neither forbidden, nor a city!). Why yes, I am wearing a very classy t-shirt, because I’m just that kind of girl. I’m standing in front of a big lion guardian, can’t remember if it was the lady or the dude lion guardian–the lady guardian had a cub under her paw, while the dude guardian had a ball. Because as we all know, ladies give birth to babies, while men give birth to…balls?

The lighting that day was pretty stellar, even if it was crowded (these shots don’t really convey the density of humans). What’s really crazy about the Forbidden Palace is that even after China became a republic (in 1911), the last emperor Puyi lived there for over a decade (until 1924). It’s like the Chinese Empire just kept living on, within those walls, for a stolen 13 years.

I’ve got a feeling that kid was NOT WELL-BALANCED when he finally got out.

I think if you’re going to get mixed up in Chinese history, your safest bet is to be a conqueror. Intellectuals go out of fashion, kings get overthrown, capitalists periodically get expelled…I think the best advice is to enter shooting arrows from horseback. For a more offensive take on Chinese history, and to experience what I was subjected to in the bus on my way to the Great Wall, see this South Park episode.

Next post: the Summer Palace!

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