China - Tiananmen + Forbidden City Edition

Oh hi.


It's Sunday, which is another tourist day before things really get serious on Monday. Remember this is actually a subject, and I'm here to eat my way through China work, so productive things actually do need to happen. 

I'm really quite behind on this blog caper, but considering when we're working, there's not much sightseeing or phototaking, I'm hoping the proceeding posts won't take as long.

But alas, here we're going to see Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City (more bucket list things!) so what do we say to those short and concise posts?

Not today!

So here's where we have breakfast every morning in Beijing - pretty fancy bufet style, a strange yet excellent amalgamation of East and West. Bacon, eggs, pumpkin dumplings and stir fried noodles on my plate? Yes please.

This, however: do not want.
 Shortish bus trip to the heart of Beijing, which really is the heart of China. We're talking the centre of everything Mao, revolutionary and all the dynasties. Pretty much everything you ever read about Chinese history happened here, which made everything pretty exciting.

Note: another awful day weather-wise. Apparently it's good without the sun because it means we won't get heatsroke and faint in the heat, which had happened before on other trips, but my photos suffer, and that's not okay.

Under Beijing traffic.

Here we go. The boulevards around look pretty similar, but that's the parliament on the left there and my sources tell me Tank Man was along this road here. 

[history fangirl squeal]

This thing is across the damn road and you can barely see it. Dammit, smog.

Our tour guide - follow the blue flag!

Sam + Bec action shot.

Little elderly people in matching hats.

The Chinese' fashion tastes are very...ecelctic. I could watch them for hours, making Tianan
men square possible the best people watching place in the world. 

Also, China is constantly a confronting and hilarious mix of East and West (just like my breakfasts), so here's this historical and important square with a few giant TV screens in the middle. 

Yeah, so I suppose you could say there's a little bit of security around.

The entrance to the Forbidden City, with Mao's face.


I get the impression these aren't the kind of guards to purposefully try to distract.


Forbidden City time. I've always loved the sound of the place since I was a little kid, because come on, Forbidden City

Alas, not so forbidden nowadays because thousands of tourists, but still.

It was a Sunday, so there were a LOT of people.

Jimmy's proud of his flag.

Tim + Jimmy.

Many Asian cultures have a strange and what I find to be a rather disheartening obsession with being white. The more white you are, the more beautiful you are. All the women in advertising that are clearly characterised as "beautiful" basically have the exposures vamped way up to the point they're basically floating eyes and lips on a white face. There's everything else from white skin creams, slightly darker Chinese despairing of their ugly skin and many sun shielding umbrellas for the women during Summer. 

I know it's predominantly a cultural aspect from a historical context: if you were white, it meant you weren't in the sun working like a peasant. Same idea with food binding; if your women had to stand and walk around and do work, you weren't very wealthy. But I can't help thinking there's also a Westernised definition of beauty which is also incorporated how this aspect of the Chinese culture works. I don't know.

Point being, chuck a few white girls in the middle of many thousands of Chinese, and you basically become a tourist attraction.

Check out that bloke. I can't stop laughing. 

I wan't pictures with them, they're so cute.

Anyway, onward!

So the Forbidden City is like an onion. It's all about layers (first person to compare an ancient historical landmark to an onion? Possibly. I'm nothing if not a pioneer). The reason it was called Forbidden was because up until the fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1911, only the most  highest and most importantest of people could come into the city. The further you could go, the more important you were, until you got to the centre area which the Emperor himself never, ever left. 

Who said this wasn't an educational blog? Bah.

So here's what you could call the first layer. We're not technically in the city yet, and you don't have to pay to get in here. 

It seemed to me like a lot of Chinese just use these courtyards as almost...picnic areas. They were just hanging around with their families, talking and eating etc.


The detail in these buildings is phenomenal, but I'll let the photos tell you more about that.

Always that blue flag.

Here we waited for a good 45 minutes for our guide to pick up our tickets.

Jimmy and the blue flag: a love story.

Standing with no seats or refreshments, also being sold terrible souvenirs.

It was hot, but it was definitely one of the cooler days in Beijing. There was a even a breeze. Whoaaa.

I didn't see that guy and the boy on the left until now. It makes me happy :D

Entry!! We must be important.

I love the little girl there. We're twins.

So these buildings we pass under are called gates. Only the Emperor passes through the middle; everyone else according to rank elsewhere. 

Chester + Egi.

"Dra-gon. We don't do the tongue thing."

ANOTHER LEVEL! Keep up with me here, I think I'm getting lost again just looking at these. 

Stalk! For my mother. Who likes stalks. Hi, mum. 
 Huge stampede of people to see a throne or something in this room.

We stood on the edge for a few minutes waiting to get in, until Whitney goes, "Okay no, we're gonna do this the Chinese way." And proceeds to shove to the front, suffering nail scratching and small children standing on her.

Yelling at people to get out of the way. Nice job, Steph.

Our working theory for the wire is that it's electrified to keep the birds from crapping on the ancient architecture.

Another level? POSSIBLY. Not sure.

We determined a lot of the buildings were stone. 


This huge stone slab there is this massive one piece work of art - they got it here in the Winter by sprinkling the ice with water and basically dragging all 200 tons of it across half of China to right here. 

Obligatory Forbidden City sass.

Just chilling.

The foot shot is back!

Whitney + yours truly.

I didn't know what made the rooftops golden - turns our they're clay laqueured in that ochre yellow colour. 

The detail's in the tiger. 

Little garden place out the back. Exhausted by this point.


Inside right next to this they had some beautiful things on display.

A gentleman was telling us about how some of the Chinese characters come to mean what they do.

Outside out the back were the gardens.

I don't even know, but awesome.

A ledge in the doorways keeps out evil spirits. Probably also ensured a lot of tripping and swearing though too.

Walking back to the bus.

An uneventful and exhausting afternoon was spent at the silk market, which sells not silk, but rooms upon rooms upon rooms of cheap knockoffs. 

It just goes on...

and on...

and on...

and on...

and on.....

I spent most of my time in Starbucks, waiting.

Dinner, however, more than made up for everything. A proper Beijing duck banquet. 

With a few very interesting menu items.


Also, cannibalism! #Engrish

There was tofu, chinese cabbage, a lot of park, bao, spicy beef, a tomato soup/stew which features what I was told to be beef tendon but which may or may not have actually been someone's intestines. Awesome.

But: DUCK.

I haven't had it like this before - the meat with the skin on goes with hoi sin, the one without goes with chilli sauce. The third plate is of just crispy skin, and you dip it in a place of sugar and eat it like that. 

There were also little buns as well as the usual duck pancakes. 

Just because it's funny.

And damn, they use ALL the duck. 

We were all beyond stuffed, but out came a duck carcass soup, followed by what I call duck KFC - all the bones battered and deep fried, from which you kinda suck off all the last morsels of meat.

So you can safely say that I'm perfectly well fed over here.

This'll be the last fun fun post for a while - next comes the work and the marketing and all the other possibly not so fun stuff. But tune in anyway, because it's gonna be good. 

Until then...

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