First Day in Beijing

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Fun for Less tour people have done a great job booking us into very nice hotels on this trip. The table below is in the lobby of our Beijing hotel. It is not only beautifully carved (and enormous!) but the top of the table is inlaid with eight different, hand-carved scenes, all made of jade.

Today's sites included Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Summer Place and the Temple of Heaven.

 Soldiers we saw near Tiananmen Square

 Tiananmen Square is massive!!

Mao's tomb is on one side of the square

Our next stop was the Forbidden City. It's difficult to describe how huge it is. There are 9,999 rooms among all of the buildings there. (The emperor who built this is, said to have had 365 wives and they each had their own chamber. This would have been a luxurious life for most women of the day. The only downside was that whole being buried with him thing, once he died.)
For all of our time in China, our guides told us to be "sticky rice" and stay together — don't be "loose noodles." Well, in the Forbidden City, Bob decided to be a loose noodle and got separated from our group. He ended up exiting the grounds and then couldn't get back in. It took a while to reconnect with him!
There are more than 100,000 visitors to the Forbidden City every day.
 Entering The Forbidden City

 Approaching the Palace

 Not a very good view of the emperor's throne

 Side buildings

During the hot summer months, the emperor and his entourage traveled across the lake to The Summer Palace — located on an island in the middle of the lake.
 Our transport to the Summer Palace

 View of the palace from the lake
 Entrance to palace (I can't remember why, but we never got to actually go inside the palace)

We stopped to say hello (Nǐ hǎo) to these adorable children.

Our final stop today was the Temple of Heaven. This is a beautifully tranquil spot where the emperor would go once a year to contemplate and plan for the future. Because it was late in the day when we got there, the buildings were already closed for the day, but, we enjoyed being on the grounds.
 Outside the Temple of Heaven

On the grounds

 Lots of locals now come here to visit, play checkers, and relax

 This quartet was having song practice

Close up of the street sweeper

Our last stop today was to a silk factory where we got to see how silk is made, start to finish. . .

This evening, they surprised us by taking us to a TGIFriday's for dinner. After two weeks of eating almost nothing but Chinese food, that steak and fries tasted wonderful!

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