So, I headed off to Ti'an'anmen Square, and the Forbidden City! Conveniently, they're right next to one another, and I thought that I just might be able to spend the whole day there comfortably. ^^ I was right! Ti'an'anmen Square is the largest open-air square in the world, and standing in the middle of it, I could sure feel it! Standing alone amid a sea of people, with just a camera and the hundreds of salesmen offering me postcards and other goods, I felt so tiny! For the first time, I felt like the miniscule speck in the universe that I am, rather than just me (aka: the center of my world). Even the Great Wall didn't make me feel this way.
I could have walked there for hours, just photographing and trying to get a sense of the vast openness of the place. But after a while, time was drawing on and I decided to finally walk across the street and enter the Forbidden City. Only..... noooothing is ever labelled properly, and I ended up in a garden instead. ^^;; A very pretty garden, but still! Eventually I found myself inside the Forbidden City itself and felt again.. so small! The city was so huge, and even with the large number of people (the first time this trip that a place wasn't almost deserted for me), it still wasn't crowded or full at all. It's hard to imagine that back in the day that this 'city' still was being used as house to the Imperial family and court, that it was ever full of people and activity.
The Forbidden City had various museums, and was so large that I didn't get to see even half of it. I definitely will go back whenever I visit Beijing again. I spent a lot of time in the Empress's and Concubines' area. The history is so fascinating!! (And Empress Cixi was such a bitch!!) Perhaps the most important thing that I got out of this trip was an immense interest in Chinese (and Japanese) history. I really, really am interested in reading more. Actually... Is there anyone that can recommend some cheap but good Chinese or Japanese history books?
Coming onto the Square was this, the 10-story high obelisk, "Monument to the People's Heroes". It was built in memory of the martyrs who laid down their lives for the revolutionary struggle of the Chinese people during the 19th and 20th century.
This is the "Great Hall of the People", basically the building housing China's parliament. (click on it)
The monument in front of Mao's Mausoleum.. Mao Zedong was the leader of the Communist Party of China and later the People's Republic of China. There was a long line to get in, but it was free if you had an ID (which I wasn't carrying, so I didn't go.. Not that I really want to see it..)
This is.. I'm not sure. ^^; A government building of some sort..
China is so excited about the Olympics that they have a countdown.... ^^;
Lots of Chinese flags and the government building.. I really like this picture, I have to admit.
Panoramas of Ti'an'anmen Square
1 side: http://namutaku.net/photos/2007-12-15-China/china_183.jpg
The other side: http://namutaku.net/photos/2007-12-15-China/china_184.jpg
The Chinese Flag on guard. There is a ceremony every morning for the raising. If it had been a decent temperature outside, I would have probably tried to go to it. ^^
Honestly, I hate the military. I hate war and anything that stands for war. And seeing people in military outfits all over the city made me feel very threatened. Greg told me when I talked to him about it that I should feel safe and shouldn't worry, but to me the military = violence. Would that I could join Celestial Being.. >.>;;
It was interesting to see, though. But I will never feel safe in a place that has such a strong miltary presence. I'm sorry to my friends that are in the military, but I would really like to see the abolishment of alll militaries before I die.. ;o;
Here is the gate to the Forbidden City, seen from the Square. I feel even now that it's a little creepy-looking with Mao's photograph.. Again, the military-esque feeling made me feel very unwelcome.
So, I finished with the Square and tried to enter the city. Only to find out that I was in the wrong place! (Again, it's not marked well and not written in english at the start, so I had no idea where to go. I've never seen pictures, so I wasn't sure what I was supposed to be looking for and until I found the sign here, I thought that I was really in the Forbidden City!
It turned out that I was in the Zhongshan Park, attached to the side of the Forbiden City.. ^^;;
The architecture was so busy and beautiful!!
More of those lions! Lions everywhere! Aren't lions from Africa, though? I thought that it was pretty funny though, that the Chinese, who were so militant, would choose an animal that could defeat most people hands-down..
More of those yellow Imperial Tiles. =D
And some really beautiful signs.. Chinese calligraphy is so gorgeous <3
I tried to take some pictures of myself. XD;; Otherwise I'll forget how cold it really was! (I was freezing!!)
Such pretty rocks!
Bamboo forest 2..
And finally, I found my way to the Forbidden City!! And boy-oh-boy was it huuuuuuuugeeee!! It did indeed feel quite forbidding! Here is the first courtyard (of quite a few. Check out the wikipedia link I linked to at the top of the post for a map and some more information).
And finally, I entered the main part of the city (that required monies to get into.. hence the less people. XD
They had such gorgeous bridges inside, with really great details. =D (Yes the water is FROZEN! Wtf!! ^^;;)
It's so biiiiig... :OI really did feel dwarfed. It was really hard imagining this 'city' with any kind of life, which I don't think is a very good testament to it. I can think of some things that would really help..
Go through the gate again... I was taking an audio tour in english, which was activated based on which part of the city I walked into. It was pretty cool and had some good information, though I think that a real tour guide would have been better. Maybe next time!
This is the... I forgot ^^;;
One of the many thrones that was in use at one time, for the Emperor.
These giant copper kettles were the city's fire extinguishers! They held large quantities of water (in the old days) in case there was ever a fire.
This is made from a single piece of stone, painstakingly carved.
Yet more lions!!
First I went into a museum about the Emperor's marriage ritual, which was really interesting, though the pictures didn't come out very well..
And here is the room that was prepared for the wedding night.. (I took it through a window, so that's why it's so bad quality..)
There were trees here too in the Northern gardens..
I have no idea..
And sort of related, but I learned some new digital photo techniques this morning.. What do you think about these pictures? :
They give off a very different feeling, but I really like them! I'm going to keep experimenting as time permits!
Next: The Summer Palace in winter, and I board the worst train of my life!! ^O^;;