Thursday, October 29, 2009

Back in Beijing September 8, 2009

Back in Beijing we had an errand to do in one of the city's largest bookstore on Wangfujing Dajie (street) - we needed to buy a specific Mandarin dictionary for our daughter .  Thank goodness our tour guide was still with us! It was a huge, modern store, and we were soon out of there with the ancient to modern mandarin under our arm.  WD is a very modern shopping street - very high end European stores.  The main streets of Beijing are filled with modern sky scrapers, each an architect's dream.  Wide avenues have been cut through the city - the main ring roads are where the old city walls used to be.  There was one turret left standing.  We found the night market which was filled with food vendors, some of whom were offering scorpions on skewers.  More on that later!

The food that we have been eating has been delicious.  Nothing weird, but lots of fresh vegetables and different tasting dishes.  The whole trip was a gustatory feast.

The Forbidden City:  The country was gearing up for the 60th Anniversary celebration of the Republic, with the major activities taking place on and around Tian'an men square.  Hence the water fountain display at the entrance.

The walls all around and the entry ways are very high and meant to be very imposing - and they are.  It has been restored and great attention paid to all the detail work.

Everything is built with significance.  There are three tiers on all these buildings representing heaven, son of heaven (the emperor) and the people.  The decorations on the roof corners have phoenixes (the empress) and dragons (the emperor) and other birds and animals.  Some even have a mandarin facing backwards - the story tells of  a dishonest mandarin who was punished by being put on the roof corner to warn all that approached of his fate.  The back
 buildings in the complex were smaller and a myriad of rooms, all of which had a certain pecking order for wives, concubines etc.  

After lunch at Ken de Rouge restaurant in the Houtong we took a quick tour of the main Olympic sites:  the Bird's nest and the Cube.  After seeing them on TV so much it was interesting to see them up close.  

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