Summer Palace, Forbidden City, Tinamen Square

Trip Start Mar 26, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Sat 3/29.
Today we visit the Summer Palace, Pearl Factory, Forbidden City, Chinese Traditional Medicine Center, and Tian an men Square. Another whirlwind day ahead...

Summer Palace
Has the longest and most beautiful corridor in the world. There are 14,000 3-D paintings on the corridor. Cixi, was the Empress during the Quing Dynasty. Her nick name was "Dragon Lady." She was not so nice of a lady. Her saying, "If you make me unhappy for ahile, I will make you unhappy for life," gives you a clue to her personality.

Pearl Factory
China is famous for both fresh water and salt water pearls of many colors. Again we were given an introduction to pearls and then had the opportunity to purchase some. As I was fortunate to be given my mother's pearls, I declined to add to the Chinese economy at the Pearl Factory, although there were many beautiful pearls to choose from.

Forbidden City
Trudy (sounds like Trudy - don't know who to spell it), an emperor built the Forbidden City during the Ming and Quing Dynasties.  Ordinary people could not go in - hence the term "Forbidden" City. Inside lived approximately 5000 people of which 500-3000 were concubines and 200-2000 were eunechs. It took between 1402 - 1420 to build the Forbidden City with 1 million laborers and 100,000 skilled craftsmen. "Trudy" moved into the Forbidden City in 1420.
24 Emperors lived in the Forbidden City, 14 during the Mind Dynasty and 10 during the Quing. It covers 72 hectares which is equal to about 100 soccer fields and has 8000 rooms.

The Forbidden City was absolutely spectacular. We would walk through a gate and see a big decorative building, then through another gate, with large grounds and building, and through another gate, etc. It was amazing. I really could have spent much more time here. But on to the Chinese Traditional Medicine Center.

Hutong Tour
Our whole tour group chose to do the optional Hutong tour. We went two by two, in rickshaws, traveling through the streets and alleyways of Hutong, the old Beijing neighborhood. It culmulnated in a home cooked lunch in someone's home.  It was very enjoyable.

Chinese Traditional Medicine Center
This was actually fairly interesting. The "doctors" came to each of us, after an introductory lecture, and "examined" us. This examination included looking at our tongues, looking into our eyes, and feeling our pulse on both wrists. Then came the diagnosis, and the recommended "prescription" of Chinese Medicine, that you of course were to buy right then. My diagnosis was that I had slow blood (low blood pressure- which I do) and digestive problems. They say my migraines are caused by the slow blood, so that my brain doesn't get enough oxygen. I took their prescription paper, but did not buy the medicine.

Tian an men Square
We walked the length of Tinamen Square, but unfortunately, could not get close to the building with Mao. This was blocked off and there were a line of people, waiting for the Olympic torch to pass through in a couple of days. The hawkers were everywhere selling scarves, kites, "Rolex" watches, Olympic ball caps, postcards etc for $1.00, $1.00, $1.00... Somewhere along the lines Fred bought me a red Olympic hat.

Peking Duck Dinner
We had a traditional Peking Duck dinner. When we first walked into the restaurant, the kitchen had an open area where all the ducks were hanging, complete with head, waiting to be roasted. The chef comes to the table and carves the duck into thin slices, still with the fat on. You then put the slices in a thin, "tortilla" along with sauce, onions, and cucumbers and have a little "Peking Duck Taco" of sorts. I tried  one slice, just to say I had Peking Duck, as I am not much of a meat eater.

Well tomorrow we fly to Shanghai and take a bus to Suzhou. Oliver was a wonderful tour guide, full of information and humor.


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