Our first stop on day two was to visit The Temple of Heaven. To get there, we walked through a beautiful park, the home to 300-400 year old cypress trees, 70-90 year olds playing games, and old relics. It is a lively place. We did see one bird here. (More about this later.)
The Temple of Heaven, AKA The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built in 1420, 22 emperors in the Ming and Qing dynasties worshipped heaven in this building.
The interior wasn’t illuminated, but had it been, here is a photo of what we would have seen:
Off to Tiananmen Square.
There’s still sensitivity to what happened there in 1989, so we didn’t bring it up, plus these guys were there. We never saw a weapon while we were in China. Hmmmm…..
The National Museum, facing Tiananmen Square
The Great Hall of the People, also on the square, has meeting hall capacity of 10,000, banquet capacity of 5,000 and 36 reception rooms where all provinces are represented, from 5 autonomous regions comprised of 55 ethnic groups.
Here’s Jerry selling us a book about Beijing (we bit) which included this lovely picture of the 15 of us with Jerry and Chairman Mao behind us welcoming us to The Forbidden City. So crazy, everyone’s wearing blue!
The Most Handsome Men in China are selected to stand in the square. Yeah, he’s pretty cute.
The 3rd emperor of the Ming Dynasty built the Forbidden City. It is enormous. It took us over four hours to walk through all the courtyards and see all the buildings. Here is the first courtyard and building we saw of many.
The Forbidden City was very ornate, and very overwhelming.
At this point, Val had just about had it. (Is she the cutest, or what?)
Me in front of the Hall of Central Harmony. (Do I look harmonious?)
We were immersed in so much history, my head about exploded. But, I did love this sign about Fairy officers sending auspiciousness. Whaaat?
Some fun facts:
In 2020 The Forbidden City will celebrate its 600th birthday.
When built, the wall was 10 meters high, plus there was a moat, plus there were 15 layers of brick on the ground to prevent anyone from tunneling. These were some careful emperors. And, they moved from building to building (37 available) to sleep so they wouldn’t be murdered.
The life of a concubine in the Forbidden City was grim if she didn’t burst a baby. (When Jerry said “birth” it sounded like “burst” which we found delightful.)
I’m thinking it’s time to revisit the movie “The Last Emperor”.
Forbidden City about did all of us in. After dinner, followed by a card game in the lobby, we crashed. On day three we left Fragrant Hill and went to The Pearl Factory. But, I’d learned at the jade factory. Luckily, three bought pearls, taking the rest of us off the hook.
After our last ride with him, we thanked (and generously tipped) our awesome bus driver, Mr. Ma, who was about to turn 60, which meant he was about to mandatorily retire.
On the way out of Beijing, we caught a glimpse of The Bird’s Nest, site of the 2008 Olympics.
We were off to the airport, heading to Chongqing. I have a note that Chongqing means “very happy” and although I’m not able to corroborate that, I’m going with it. There are two weathers there: foggy and heavy foggy. Since it tends to be chilly, Chongqing is famous for spicy meals, known as hot pots.
On the flight, I was seated next to a very nice 30-something (40-something?) Chinese man, Michael Haoyn. Another wonderful small world moment: his 16 year old daughter is going to high school in Raleigh, North Carolina. Too darned much! I loved that he was reading Henry Kissinger’s book World Order. (Hi Michael!)
On the airline we were warned, whatever you do, DO NOT TRAMPLE on the toilet.
After arriving, we drove through with the rain blurring the beautiful city lights, so I don’t have much to report about Chongqing.
We arrived at the Yangtze Cruise late at night and had to make our way across several floating platforms to board the ship. This would have been fine for youngsters, but for elderly folks it was a challenge. However, we all made it, were given a small meal and sent right to bed.
Our next four days on the boat, capacity 400, would take us on a 850 kilometer journey to see more of China.
Okay, probably enough for today. Check in later for the next bunch of wonders.