The Forbidden City, Beijing
Vera and I stepped out of our hotel, turned left……
……and there was a crossing over the frozen moat which surrounds The Forbidden City.
We were 100 feet from the hotel, in the street, when we were approached by an artist who had a gallery near the hotel. “I want to practice my English with you”, he said, and we’ve now come to understand that this is the ploy to engage us in conversation, and then, ostensibly, to sell us something.
We went into his gallery, where he immediately did a calligraphy piece of Vera’s name. He spoke very good English, which was a bit of a relief, and he told Vera that her name meant “delicate flower”, which happens to be my nickname for her!
We went on to the Forbidden City, after trying to leave the gallery for 20 minutes (he just kept talking to us, and he was a nice guy with such interesting stories, that it was difficult to leave). At the gate to The Forbidden City, we were approached by lots of people wanting to be our guide… We wanted to go without a guide, so we had to say “no thank you” in Chinese about 50 times! Every step we took was met with people saying, “Excuse me, you want guide? I work here…”
The Forbidden City was immense and beautiful. I’m a sucker for Chinese architecture. From the huge, beautiful detailed painted beams to the glazed terra cotta roof tiles, the Forbidden City is a feast for the eyes. Giant bronze cauldrons were everywhere, and I imagined that centuries ago they held bonfires, but in fact they were meant to hold water in case of fire. Ironically, In the winter, fires were set under them to prevent freezing.
Vera and I both enjoyed the Imperial Gardens, with its unusual rock formations, amazing old trees, and ancient bronze sculptures.
A portrait of Vera…….
…and Vera and I, at The Forbidden City.