Because we moved to a new room last night, we did not get the ‘wake up’ call this morning. I got up to find my watch and it was 7:30! We needed to be at the bus by 8:00 so raced around getting ready. Confusion reigned as we tried to make sure we had everything we needed. As we got to the elevator, Dan realized he’d left his inhaler in the room.
With everything we needed, we took the elevator to the lobby. We still had five minutes so scuttled over to the buffet and grabbed some food before zipping out the door to catch the bus.
First stop: Tienanmen Square. This is the largest city square in the world. The Chinese Museum and building opposite it (on other side of square) were built in Russian style during the time Russia was ‘friend’ to China. The building where Mao’s body is kept is on one side of the square. The Square is huge.
waiting to enter the Square:
Forbidden City. It took 14 years and 1,000,000 workers to complete the facility. Pu Yi was the last emperor of the Ching Dynasty. He was kicked out of Forbidden City in 1924 although he had been de-throned years earlier.
Pu Yi was imprisoned in Russia for 10 years (something to do with 1937 anti-Japanese war). He wrote a book “From Emperor to Citizen” telling of how he had to learn how to do things for himself. He died in 1967 of lung cancer.
Pu Yi was hand chosen by The Dragon Lady to be the next emperor.
The Dragon Lady was concubine of the 7th emperor of the Ching Dynasty. She was the first to have the emperor’s child, a son. If the emperor loves the concubine, her family receives gifts – land and goods. If emperor doesn’t even know the concubine exists, she is basically a non-person. If you are a loved concubine, all the other concubines want you dead. If emperor dies, the concubines become nuns.
The Dragon Lady would read important documents when Emperor was ill and would use his ‘stamp’ to change things in her favor. The Emperor died and her son become the new Emperor at age four. The wife of the previous Emperor and The Dragon Lady shared the Empress Dowager position. Eventually The Dragon Lady poisoned the wife. The Dragon Lady controlled China through her son.
When her son became an adult, he wanted to run China. Mother and son quarreled but she always won.
He got married to royalty but fell in love with a prostitute. From her he caught syphilis. The doctors knew but were not about to tell The Dragon Lady what was wrong with him. They kept calling in new doctors until there were 30 of them. None of them would tell his mother. She eventually figured it out.
After her son died, she appointed her nephew (an infant) as the next Emporer. Again, she ran the country through the child. After the nephew died, The Dragon Lady chose Pu Yi.
The Dragon Lady’s name is Ci Xi.
Back to Forbidden City: No commoner was allowed inside the city walls. If one were to sneak in and get caught, that person, the person’s family, friends and maybe even just people they knew, would be killed. The ‘sneak’ would be killed by having arms and legs sliced until they died. It could take up to half a day to die.
The largest building was for special ceremonies for the Emperor. The one behind it was for practicing for the ceremonies. The one behind that was the office of the Emperor.
There are 9,999 rooms. Heaven has 10,000 rooms. Since the Emperor was the son of god, he had one room less.
We went to the concubine’s courtyard area. This was the area Pu Yi lived in after he’d been de-throned. One of the rooms is the dining room. It is set up as a museum.
We also walked through some of the garden area. Very beautiful but so many people! We were also in a hurry to get through to get back to our bus so didn’t have time to enjoy it. Wish I could’ve spent more time in this area – fascinating.
Next was lunch and then back to the hotel.
We went across the street to a shopping center at dinner time. The third floor had a variety of restaurants so we chose the one that served sushi. After ordering and eating our meal, the staff came over and figured our bill. They did not take credit cards or US money. We did not have enough yuan! So, I stayed while Dan left to go back to the hotel to exchange some money.
Dan came back with Larry Roessler! They’d run into each other in the shopping canter. Larry gave us a loan so we could pay our bill. Then we stayed while Larry tried to order a meal ‘to go.’ It worked but was rather interesting how it worked. Lots of pointing and miming. Then, they made Larry pay before they would prepare his meal. Gee, I wonder why?
Did I mention this previously? There is a LOT of horn honking in the cities here. They use it to let others know they are there – not because they are upset. It actually works well. Dan and I agree, we now understand why many Asian drivers in Calif drive the way they do.
Another thing I noticed here, the air is so polluted, it is VERY rare to see a blue sky. The only place we saw it was when we were on the river cruise (only one day). We compared the mask Dan has been using with the unused one. The one he’s been using looks dirty. That is what did not get into his lungs. The rest of us are breathing the dirty air with no filter.