Kay. So. The second stop on our whirlwind tour of Beijing was the Forbidden City. It's hard to explain how it's laid out without showing you a picture to kind of give you an idea. It's a series of gates and courtyards, gates and courtyards:
So here is what you see when you are ready to go in. I'm not sure what this gate is called - it's not on the above map - it's just the main entranceway:
Walking from the main entrance through that first courtyard - we still weren't in the part that you see on that map:
It was sunny.
I sooo wish we had had some kind of backpack to carry Micah. Yeah, it would have been crazy-heavy, but dude, he is the slooooooowest walker. Pulling him is like pulling a waterskier. I was the boat, my arm was the rope, Micah was the waterskier:
They have these amazing carvings everywhere, even on the handrails by the stairways. Just beautiful:
Fire really must have been a big fear even hundreds of years ago, because they have these huge bronze cauldrons all over the place, which used to be filled with water in case of fire:
This is the Gate of Heavenly Purity, which leads to the inner court, where the emperor and his wife and some concubines slept:
And you heard me mention concubines - each emperor had about 3,000 of them. That's right. But he only personally knew about 20 of them. If you were really pretty, you might get a chance at being the emperor's concubine. But you may never meet him in your whole life. But you couldn't marry anyone else or have a relationship with anyone else. The guards assigned to watch over the concubines were all eunichs, to ensure that no hanky-panky went on between guards and concubines. The concubines were the property of the emperor, and that was that.
There are these Chinese Lions all over the place:
Aaaand more people staring at us:
So you may have noticed that there were no trees inside the courtyards - I guess each emperor was scared of getting assassinated, so no trees were allowed where he would be, because assassins could easily hide in trees. But once you get past the inner courtyard, there is a lovely Imperial Flower Garden, with lots of very, very old trees:
They have these beautiful rock formations there in the garden:
You can see the moat here, along with one of four arrow towers:
It truly felt like we were there maybe for one hour? It went by so fast, and we were jogging or speedwalking almost the whole time. It was a killer.
By the time we had gone all the way through, Micah had fallen asleep in my arms. And our tour guide was in a hellfire hurry to get to some Chinese traditional medicine clinic, so we literally ran probably five miles, me with this 30 pound sleeping child in my arms, to the bus. I seriously thought I was going to faint. Sheesh. That lady really needs to simmer down-a.