Forbidden City? Who isn’t drawn by that name? We had to go! I was intrigued even before we left the US. It turned out to be a truly beautiful time in a fascinating place, and a relatively easy adventure for our time and budget. We went on a weekday around 1pm and waited not at all to buy entrance tickets. We were amazed at how low the price was* and how uncrowded the place felt.
Golden Water River moat shaped like a bow has five bridges (above), Hall of Supreme Harmony with large plaza (below)
It is a very large place with over 900 buildings. Some are intact for viewing, some are not open for visitors, and a few have been made into museums. We entered through the south gate as most people do and walked north. After crossing the moat and seeing the large plaza and big three center buildings, we spent time at the Hall of Clocks and Watches.
The Hall of Clocks and Watches was neat- many clocks with complicated moving characters from the 1700’s, some European, some Chinese made, all amazing. Some used running water to mark time, many had animals and/or people that move, some seemed to have a clock as an afterthought!
The writer below actually writes Chinese characters with real ink and brush!
The elephant below moves its trunk and tail! The whole thing marches along- and it tells time, I assume. See the tiny clock?
Ah, I could have spent more time there. But we didn’t, we needed to go to a different place. We needed an electronics store, what a contrast! We took the immense subway and went to the Wangfujing station commercial area. This place has designer stores as in Bangkok or NYC and we found what we wanted to buy. Then we ate a fried tarantula! Fiercely took a video of the event. All of the kids tried it, too!So gross.
We went to this area several times for different reasons. There are good bookstores and excellent people-watching. There is a night market down an alley that I liked. We lost the twins there briefly but they were fine, hanging out with some friendly Europeans.
The subway, by the way, is one of the largest in the world. It is clean, cheap, and well-run but often crowded of course. We were surprised by how elaborate the stations often were- they looked like airports with long tunnels and many escalators- and with how far we had to walk when transferring lines. I even wondered if the long walks between subway lines were done by design to spread out the masses and keep them from all being at the platforms simultaneously.
So, there is some of our experiences at the ancient city and the modern city! We were in Beijing several weeks, more to come…
*about $10 each for us adults and $3 for each kid (even Fiercely, age 15, who is charged adult price for everything)