Thursday, October 30, 2008



For our second day in Beijing we joined a tour. Our guide was a lovely young woman who answered my unending questions. She explained, the government is still communist but more open to the West. Years ago, she was living in a small apartment with her father, mother, grandfather, grandmother, uncle and aunt and a cousin in a two-bedroom apartment. Notice one child per family. They all shared one kitchen and one bathroom with the rest of the building and they all had to dress the same way. Now she is engaged. Competition is encouraged. They work hard and save money. She and her fiancé were able to buy a one-bedroom apartment.

We visited the Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. The square is a huge place overcrowded with a million tourists every day. To cross the large avenue and reach Tiananmen Square, we had to go through a tunnel. It was here that one of the tourists in our group panicked and said she couldn’t find her mother. The poor old woman was separated from our group. We spent half an hour looking for her, while taking pictures and then the group had to continue. Two hours later, both women finally joined us.

We spent three hours touring the courtyards, pavilions, and palaces of the forbidden city. Each of the emperor and empress had their own palaces. There were pavilions for the guests, for the officials, for the empress’s family…The yellow color was reserved to the imperial family. No one else could use it in China. The various servants serving in the Forbidden City were carefully chosen. It was an honor to serve the imperial family. But once chosen, the servants could never leave the Forbidden City and the parents could not visit.

Next, we went to the Great Wall of China built in the 3rd century BC. I was surprised to find out that the Wall is in fact a stone stairs framed by two walls interrupted by tours. I walked up to the first tour, almost like climbing three stories. The steps were at least one-foot high and irregular. My husband felt challenged and kept going to the second tower as high as eight stories. Apparently, the view is breathtaking from there. People rarely walk beyond that, although the Great Wall completely surrounds China and is the only man-made artifact visible from the surface of the Moon.

As you can see it was cold on the Great Wall. This picture is taken on the first tower.

The third tower visible from far.

The statues of soldiers from the Ming Tombs.

And here, a picture at the Cloisonné factory where they manufacture gorgeous vases and plates.

Question 2: Which city in the Far East has more bycicles and motorcycles than any country in the world?


Molly Daniels said...

I'm loving these pics! The factory looks beautiful:) And glad you got to go to the Great Wall:)

Lynne Marshall said...

This is so wonderful, Mona. thank you for sharing so many great photos!

Lynne Marshall said...

Tokyo or Beijing

Helen Scott Taylor said...

Interesting photos, Mona. Sounds like you had a wonderful time. Shame about the weather.

I'd love to see the historic parts of China. I'm sure it would give me story ideas.

Sandra Cox said...

I particularly like the pic of you and the statues of the soldiers.