We left for Beijing two days after Christmas and took a flight through mainland to Dalian. Dalian is scary, the mean immigration guy and workers were not even concerned if we would get on our flight to Beijing! Nonetheless, we got back on the same plane to Beijing where after much searching we found our bags and met our tour guide, Mr Alan. Our crazy road rage driver (which we found to be the norm at each stop) took us to The Sunworld Hotel in downtown Beijing. It was a really awesome hotel with lots of space and nice amenities. I would recommend it to Westerners traveling to Beijing for sure.
We rested up that night and hit the ground running the next day.
|The large billboards in red cycle through videos about the 55 ethnic minorities in China.|
Tiananmen Square was our first stop. Many know it for the protest of 1989 where tanks rolled through and caused mass casualties. It is much larger than photos can capture and there are security checks at every entrance.
|In the square, behind us is the entrance to the Forbidden City.|
|The Forbidden City entrance up close.|
The Forbidden City was one of our favorite parts of China. It is a huge structure with many buildings that made up a completely self-sufficient city. The outer court was for business, while the inner court was for living.
|The bridge across the moat only lowered twice a day-- open and close of business.|
The city had many unique factors. Each door has 81 brass knobs because 9 is the royal number. (9 x 9 = 81)
There were giant pots of water to put out fires quickly, because the all wooden buildings are in close quarters. Phoenix and dragons were at every turn, representing the empress and emperor, respectively. The detail and artwork was awe-inspiring as well.
|You can see the dragon and phoenix in this carving.|
The story of the Dragon Lady , who was a concubine turned empress turned ruler for many years was entertaining. She hid behind a curtain, telling three young emperors in succession how to rule the country. The many individuals who tried to remove her from power were.... eliminated.
|A giant Jade Guardian Lion? The Dragon Lady got whatever she wanted.|
|In front of the inner court.|
|Gorgeous architecture in the city garden.|
Here is a fun fact for you:
Remember my old post about the Shi Shi dogs who guard our home in Okinawa? The one above looks sort of similar, but China has a few differences. Chinese Guardian Lions (often referred to as ShiShi, also) both have their mouths open in China while the female has hers closed in Japan. The female holds a baby lion under her paw while the male holds a ball representing heaven and Earth in China. They serve the same purpose, protecting those inside that particular building or area.
This is just a small tidbit of one day in Beijing, we have much more to share! Tune in every Wednesday for the next couple weeks to hear about our entire adventure! :)