Alright, now it’s time to give my captivated audience what they’ve been waiting for. I finally got my butt to Tian’men Square and The Forbidden City. Tian’men square I honestly found lacking. The large flat square was mysteriously lacking in any sort of seating. Some people simply crouched while others sat on the edges of monuments, avoiding eye contact with the large amount of patrolling guards. The large avenue that separates the Forbidden City from Tian’men Square has to be crossed by underground tunnels where they funnel crowds through metal detectors. I spent no more than 15 minutes wandering amongst the various pillars and statues, lawns dotted with large colorful flower arrangements and a few very large LED screens showing some wonderfully moving patriotism.
A week later I spent my first day off in the modern, business part of town. I met some friends for lunch and then headed over to the shopping district of Sanlitun. I just needed to buy a plain black tank top and
thought Uniqlo would be a no fuss option. The staff in Chinese Uniqlos partake in an odd ritual of constantly yelling to each other about what I expect are updates on customers (I really have no idea they could have been talking about their grandmothers).
The Forbidden City left a much more favorable impression on me, even though they refused to carry me around on a sedan chair. My
first thought was that they really do not call it a City for nothing. It’s a 5-10 minute walk to even get the the ticket lines, right next to the main gate. The lines went pretty quickly and I made my way inside. I bought an audio guide and started my tour. The audio guide had a built in GPS that knew where I was and told me the history accordingly. My favorite parts were the less busy ones where there were small shrines, meeting areas and bedchambers. The weather which had been so hot and sunny the day before was chilly with a solid gray sky.
- Percia Verlin