Friday, May 16, 2008

A Single Act...

After Shanghai, Kara and I headed off to Beijing. We met up with Dad and he had one day free so we could explore the city together. I was thrilled to be going back to the Forbidden City. When we were there 25 years ago, I can remember it as though it were yesterday. Mr. Liu, the communist party member guide, was very solicitous of Grandma Hallstrom. He was constantly hovering over her. He would take her arm and help her up the stairs or down; over rough patches and smooth...making sure that she was never in jeopardy. (Grandma was not too thrilled with the constant individual attention!) The Forbidden city covers an area of about 200 acres. Twenty emperors have lived through the years. It was started in 1406 and finished in 1420. It took 100,000 plus artisans working steadily for 14 years to complete it. The number 9 is considered to be a very lucky, and it is found throughout the palace in decorative fact, there are 9,999 rooms! How is that for good luck? Twenty five years ago we were allowed to go into the rooms and envision an age that had past. Today, no one is allowed to experience that--we could peer through windows and look through open doors, but that was all. We couldn't even walk on the Emperor's pathway like we did 25 years ago! Still, it was fun to be there with Dad and Kara. Here are some of the highlights!

Here we are beginning our excursion into the Forbidden City by having our photo taken at Tiananmen Square with the Gate of Heavenly Peace behind us. That picture of Mao has been there for the past 25 years...somethings never change!

This is an amusing anecdote. Kara and I were sitting down waiting for Dad to take our picture. A Chinese man came rushing up the stairs and gestured to us that he wanted to take a picture with us. Kara and I stood up to stand with him, and he immediately gestured that we needed to stay seated and he would be the one to stand. I am still trying to figure out if there was a cultural significance to that request!

The Forbidden City is filled to overflowing with beautiful details. Mini paintings, elaborate tiles and roof ornaments are some of the beautiful things to appreciate. Note the lovely colors and roof tiles in this picture. It makes me wonder why we didn't go with more detail on our roof!

An amazing natural stone formation is found in the Emperor's Garden located in the rear of the city. The door behind us was only for the Emperor or Empress to use. This rock formation is called The Hill of Accumulated Elegance. Every year, on the 9th day of the 9th month, the Emperor and Empress would enter here and climb to the top to view the scenery. Absolutely stunning... But what I really loved was the wisdom shared on the sign in front of the door!

No sermon necessary here!I could post more about The Forbidden City--but I think this gives you a taste. However, do not despair, we still have The Summer Palace and some odds and ends to cover--plus a another quip!


  1. I want to vacay with you and Dad! No fair.

  2. Oh to be a supermodel in China. Where everyone wants out pictures!