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Amy and Co. In China 3 – Fish, Felines and the Forbidden Palace

Thursday 14th July

It was a sort of dizzy haze really. It wasn’t really sunny, but neither was it what you could technically classify as a ‘polluted’ day. I have the AQI for that.

 

Breakfast was literally apples and Yakult for me; a perfect combo, in my opinion. We drove once again through the heavy traffic to our flat in Hai Dian (the district where the main flat in Beijing is) before promptly taking off for the Forbidden Palace.

Qian Men. Plus a tram.

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Upon arriving at Qian Men station situated on Line 2 of the subway, we firstly walked through the traditionally styled streets, with added trams, Starbucks and Madame Tussaud’s for some reason? And there were frankly terrifying bouts of identical little schoolchildren with purple neckties, purple caps and purple sweatshirts waving by into the attraction. Is it educational in any way whatsoever?

 

After having a casual argument (I say casual because it happens so often) with a cashier at Miniso, this shop chain similar to the likes of Muji but less sustainable, whilst buying a plushie bear cushion, we walked over to Tian An Men square. Security is tight around here; we got stopped and checked three times before we had even started queuing to get across the street into the square. After the incident in 1989, the government doesn’t really want another riot on their hands, especially since they won’t be able to cover it up this time. Make sure you bring your ID’s if you’re Chinese and passports if you’re a tourist visiting, though they generally don’t stop you.

 

I advise paying for tickets online for the Forbidden Palace. Since they claim to only take in 80,000 people a day now, the majority of these tickets are paid for in advance rather than on the day. And it’s way too busy to even get a grip on where your hands are in front of you. Had to hold on to my LOH’s hand to make sure she didn’t wander off to chase a squirrel or something obscure.

Tian An Men Square. Had to go through three bands of security to get to it!

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The Forbidden Palace is truly formidable, containing 9,999 and a half rooms in its vicinity (since 10,000 is a number bestowed only to the Emperor, even though this is the Emperor’s palace?…), although it would be nice to actually go inside some of the rooms instead of just walking around them. It’s noisy, it’s crowded and we were lucky that it was only 30 something degrees.

Far away view of the Forbidden Palace. Swathes of people everywhere.

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Feeling hungry afterwards, we walked down to Nan Luo Gu Xiang, a famous hutong. Hutong’s are a bit like villages, but more medieval and now more rare since the government has torn down possibly 98% of them all. It’s a great place (except when it rains and you end up being jabbed in the eye with umbrellas and step in all the puddles), perfect for shopping and food alike. We ate at a place called Huo Ji, which serves massive savoury porridge a which are steamy and heartwarming. My LOH had a pigeon and chicken porridge, which was so large it would have probably been fine for five people. They also serve dim sum, and although it’s small, the porridge definitely made up for it. After lunch we went through the main alleys, buying some hand-pressed bamboo postcards and some thermal flasks shaped like penguins? It’s really very touristy.

Masses of porridge right there.

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Finally, we had dinner at this fishy (+ spicy) place at Shi Ji Jing Yuan with one of my friends parents. I don’t do well with spicy food (or most Chinese food for that matter) but my LOH was devouring it all and wanting seconds. Fancy that.

Next up: climbing, mountains and aching feet. A good view if I can be bothered enough to look.

 

~MW

 

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