China Vacation: Day 3: Tian’an Men Square, Forbidden City, Summer Palace

November 27, 2013

I didn't sleep too well, waking up about every hour afraid I was going to miss the tour. I decided to stay up entirely at about 5:30 am when I watched some TV and read through my guide. Breakfast in our hotel is very nice and an east and west blend of food. Given I was still hungry, seeing eggs, bacon and sausage was a pleasant delight.

Frank shared with us some details about the tour and we headed off to Tian'an Men Square with about 9 from the original group. It was a VERY cold day out, with the temperature in the 20s and a windchill that was unreal to start the day.
Not five minutes off the bus, we lost our first traveler of the group. After our guide went back to find him, the rest of us very patiently waited in the square, freezing our butts off. 
The photo of Chairman Mao at the end of the square on the Ming Dynasty gate was as larger than life as you'd might expect. Frank tells us his portrait is replaced every year in September before the national revolution holiday on October 1.
We continued into the Forbidden City which is quite a complex. The movie The Last Emperor kept coming to mind which was appropriate as Frank used it as a reference several times throughout the day, including the study habits and notables of the final emperor.
The Forbidden City was amazingly large with several "halls" progressively getting to the ceremonial hall. Frank showed us the bedroom of Cixi who served as a female empress in the mid 1800s. 
After lunch and our first real experience with traditional Chinese food, we made our way to a local retail location that specializes in fresh water Chinese pearls. I opted not to purchase anything, but did look for a ring similar to the one my father wears which features a black pearl. No dice.
Next, we ventured to the Summer Palace; a large manmade complex including a lake, several small islands, and a temple at the top with a statue of Buddha. While it was bitterly cold with the wind blowing off the lake, the scene was very gorgeous. 
We returned to the hotel where I settled in somewhat taking a short nap and then venturing out to dinner. Frank had recommended a Beijing noodle place down the road from the hotel. While I didn't get a chance to order the noodles, I did enjoy pork in a soy bean sauce that was very tasty, albeit salty.

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Beijing, China, Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Tianamen Square, Vacation,