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BEIJING DAY 3-Tiananmen Sq.-Forbidden City

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April 22, 2011.  Today was the first official tour day. We went to Tiananmen Square, the largest square in the world.


Policemen abound throughout the square, because there are so many visitors. And one of them was Paddy, standing in the middle of Tiananmen Square.



Around the square there are many buildings, as The Great Hall of People and, most important, a walkway to the gate of The Forbidden City, a palace from the Ming Dynasty, which only members of the Royal family could enter and enjoy. A portrait of Chairman Mao adorns the wall, and Paddy stands among the throngs of tourists.




The first photo shows the monument to the People's Heroes, and then a close up of the same. It commemorates all the people who died during the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989. Nowadays people use the square for leisure activities, as originally planned.



In the vicinity of the Square there stands what is known as a Tien Tan juniper tree.  Also known as the Nine Dragon juniper tree, it resembles the tails of nine dragons intertwined and forming the tree trunk. It is over 500 years old.



Here we see the entrance to the Forbidden City, with the Palace of Tranquil Longevity in the distance, and then a close up of the same and a peek at its interior.



Within the confines of the Forbidden City, there are many typical Chinese buildings, and a lake, Kunming Lake, which had to be traversed to reach the Summer Palace. We boarded a dragon boat to get there, and on the way we saw a marble boat resembling a paddle boat. It was never intended to float, and was completed in 1893, using money originally ear marked for the creation of a modern Chinese Navy.  Misappropriation of funds existed even then.



Because of the summer heat, buildings were connected by shady corridors. Here's a view of one called The Long Corridor. We saw its ornate ceiling and side decorations, and at the end, an imposing dragon watching over the palace.




The palace is surrounded by water, and there are ponds and moats throughout. Stylized birds and animals abound, as well as dragons. We see here a pagoda by Kunming Lake and a stairway to the Palace of Longevity.



Interspersed throughout the palace, there were cauldrons for offerings and finally a sign indicating the way to different pavilions.




These are different views of the pavilions in the Summer Palace.



Here we see an interior courtyard between palace buildings, and again a stylized dragon and deer guard the pavilions.




Some views of the offices of the Emperor and other chambers.



The Qing dynasty installed the first telephones in 1910 in the Forbidden City to deal with all the societal changes brought by the Opium Wars.




The Pavilion to Usher in the Light had an elaborate rock garden, and after seeing some more pagodas and pavilions within the palace grounds, we exited to visit a pearl exhibit.




When we arrived at the establishment, a saleslady showed us where pearls come from. An oyster may produce many pearls. We then proceeded to the show room, where we saw many exquisite samples of jewelry. As far as the eye could see, there were precious stones, jewels and objects d'art.



Our last stop was a famous Peking Duck Dinner. The duck as sliced very thin, and so were the vegetables. I did not like it at all, it was very dry and stringy, so I just ate the vegetables. Here you can see the remains of a charred Peking Duck dinner.

Tomorrow we will explore one of the main reasons for this trip: the Great Wall of China.





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