Beijing, day four was basically one big taxi ride out to our new hotel – we were to start our big, absolutely arranged, Beijing tour on the fifth day of our travels – the new hotel was swanky, clean, but also in the middle of nowhere – it was a good hours drive out of the city and from where we were staying beforehand. I had a feeling we would be Driving Forever. Too true.
On the upside, our tour of somewhat epic proportion began with a bang on day five – after competing with hoards of hungry touring families and old folks (and a surprising large number of Singaporean/Malaysian Australians) during the breakfast buffet, we boarded our buses and were shifted out the Forbidden City (紫禁城) – a massive citadel that housed the emperors and their families from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty. Now, I’m not going to lie, this place is HUGE. Ridiculously HUGE. The scale of the place is so hard to convey – but imaging a grain of sand – ok, that grain of sand is you. Now imagine a sea lion. A huge, angry sea lion. Okay, that sea lion is the Forbidden City. No joke.
We luckily managed to arrive on a very rare sun-soaked day – on the downside it was so hot. On the upside – ridiculously blue skies and amazingly punched colours – all the amazing details of these buildings were magnified by the sunlight. Oh, by the way, if you havent’ already noticed, this blog post will have a bazillion photos. Just saying. You’ve been warned.
This has to be one of my most favourite parts of the entire tour (well, the Peking duck part of the tour was pretty fabulous as well) – but I loved the history and the atmosphere of the Forbidden City – to be immersed in all of this detail and have the opportunity to experience it first-hand was truly amazing. Of course, our tour guide spoke in slightly Beijing-accented Mandarin, which is usually no problem for me, but since I was too busy taking pictures of things, I would occasionally return to his informative speeches half-way through and constantly had to ask my sister or my parent’s to go-over what he said. I’m not sure they were all too pleased with me – what I do know is that I have discovered that I know very little about Chinese history. Oops. Time to crack out the textbooks.