this is where history was made
So for my last day in Beijing
I was off to the Forbidden City, which is now set amongst the growing metropolis, and it is like a little island since there is a wide moat around the whole thing. This serves as a reminder that it used to be impossible to enter. The whole time you are in this place you get the feeling of how quickly you would be killed for being there just 100 years ago. We entered from what is considered the back entrance (how randy!) and so we started with the garden area. We rented these little auto-guides, which are these little walkman-like things which take cues from transponders around the palace grounds which give little descriptions.
flows through near the main entrance
They are informative and really funny as they speak the King's English, very proper. So the gardens were nice, with the artificial mountain (rock pile) was cool, and these were meant to remind the royals of what nature really looks like outside their little world. After proceeding a little further I realized how massive this place is, it truelu is a city unto itself. We started visiting little houses and courtyards which belonged to either formere emporers who were forced out of power or to the extended family of the emperor. Also there were many houses for the royal concubines, so many of which that he would use a sort of wheel-of-fortune method to select which one to sleep over with, so to avoid excessive jealousy. These chicks would bribe people to rig the wheel too! So after seeing some of the smaller palaces we went on to the biggest ones, which were simply massive, and expressed the scale of the empire.
You can imagine this place was no fun back in the day, way too heavy for me. It also looks like it was a very empty existance for these guys, as they usually enjoyed only a short reign, except for a few who lived it up for decades. Even then they had so much pressure and executions to do, certainly not a fun job (but the concubines help!). After taking in all the amazing things here, and soaking in a real piece of history, we were off to the last destination in Beijing, which was the Summer Palace. Now in ancient times this was far outside the city, but now that things keep growing it is located quite near to the action of the city. It is not really a palce, but more of a nature retreat with palaces all around. There is a huge manmade lake in the middle, and it is beautiful, with a little island palace and a gorgeous bridge with 17 arches I think.
one of the main palaces, the summer home of the empress
I convinced Chun that we should rent a battery powered boat and not a pedal boat, which proved to be a good idea. It was so relaxing to just putter around the water, and look at the natural scene. We tried forever to get under the bridge, but the wind was blowing thru the arches and made our weak little boat motor struggle. I actually put my hand out to the wall and pulled us along! I actually became quite the navigator out there and may have a career in battery powered sailing. I cannot think of a better way to finsih your time in Beijing, just relaxing on the lake in a shaded boat, which has a little table to play cards or what have you. It really was the right way to finish off my time there, peaceful. After this it was off to the airport to head for Chongqing.
I spent some time in the airport chilling with Chun and her mum. They are so nice and helpful, it was a real blessing to have them with me the whole time. I was sad to leave but knew another adventure loomed large in my future. I am sure I will see these wonderful ladies again. My plane was of course delayed an hour or so, and I just chilled and practiced my chinese since I was about to be on my own in a city where much less people speak english. It finally got going and I was off, who knows what to expect besides the unexpected!