Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Hidden Children in the City, errr, I Mean Children in The Forbidden City

Posted by She Said

Last weekend was a three-day holiday here in China. After visiting Fragrant Hills on Friday, Google, The Bird’s Nest, and The Water Cube on Saturday, and a full day of shopping on Sunday, what better way to end the holiday weekend than visit a place everyone else in China was visiting at the same time?

_IGP7653(The line to get tickets.)

That’s right. We decided to go to the Forbidden City. This palatial estate was built roughly 600 years ago and spans almost 8 million square feet.

800px-Gugun_panorama-2005-1 (picture courtesy of Wikipedia)

We were very fortunate to have Greg’s coworker, Jun, and her mother, May, join us for the day. We started by visiting the Tiananmen Gate, which is the primary building in the above picture. Behind the gate is the Forbidden City. In front of the gate is Tiananmen Square. This cost an additional 15 yuan ($2.25) for the adults, and the children were free. Score! There was just one catch. No bags whatsoever were allowed. Thank goodness I bought capris the day before on my shopping spree that had cargo pockets to hold all of our passports and my wallet. We then checked our bags into a place that seemed completely disorganized and confusing and was completely swarmed with people trying to do the same thing.

To get up to the top of the Gate, we first had to go through a security check. Males and females were separated into different lines. For once, the men’s line was longer than the women’s line. Kind of refreshing actually.

Emily, Jun, May, and I were simply waived through the security “check”, and then we waited for Greg and Braedyn to get through their long line. When they did get through, Greg’s bright red cheeks were very telling. Apparently he was not simply waived through, but was felt up and patted down quite thoroughly. He looked back at the security check, and if I hadn’t known better, I’d swear he was looking for a way to get back in line for another round of that little extra somethin’-somethin’.

I’m sure this next part might get old hearing about, but this is our blog, so you just have to suck it up. Much of our day was spent being asked (or gestured) to take pictures of our kids or being asked if they could pose with them and have their pictures taken. Much of Emily’s day was spent clamoring away from random touches and from numerous cheek and hair strokes. It was also spent running away from, and I do mean literally running away from, strangers’ camera lenses. And because it was a holiday weekend, we were told many visitors that day were from other areas of China, not just Beijing. Translation: Emily and Braedyn were even more of an anomaly to those from outside of Beijing.

This next picture taken at the top of the Tiananmen Gate by Greg really sums up Emily’s experience:


After having a temper tantrum about not wanting to have her picture taken again, she ran off, screaming. Those of you who have had the pleasure of hearing her eardrum-piercing, glass-shattering screams can imagine that it did in fact NOT help with diverting attention AWAY from her. In fact, quite the opposite happened. Although everyone is giving the wild child space during her tantrum, all eyes and camera lenses are on her, including the one on the tripod. And I thought the tantrum pictures at The Great Wall were good.

Emily kept asking, “Daddy, can I be on your elbows?”, meaning she wanted to ride on Greg’s shoulders. He pleaded with her to just walk because her being on his shoulders just made them a beacon. She didn’t care, she was out of reach from random touches.


The attention to the kids became so bad that at one point we hid behind a tree while we had a snack and waited for Jun to graciously tackle the long lines to get our tickets into the rest of the Forbidden City.

_IGP7631 Our anonymity did not last long, however, and we had to start moving. Movement is the best defense we have learned. And it’s not like the police would be any help if we needed it.

Once inside, the magnitude of the buildings truly became apparent.

_IGP7667 (Jun and her mother, May)


The details at every turn were intricate and remarkable.

And the colors were glorious. I can only imagine how it must have felt to be there during its heyday.

_IGP7800_stitch _IGP7782

My favorite part of the Forbidden City had to be the imperial gardens. Braedyn and I quickly swooped in and had our picture taken in the very spot emperors had their wedding pictures taken.


The grounds were meticulously cared for. OK, let me clarify that. The foliage was meticulously cared for. Trust me, there is a difference. We particularly enjoyed the old trees, which appeared to be almost as old as Greg.


After making our way from one end of the Forbidden City to the other, we called it a day and bid Jun and May farewell. We decided to poke around that area of town a little longer, and I am happy we did. Greg was trying to find a specific restaurant he had heard of, but instead we found a magnificent little park with a river running through it that fed into the Forbidden City.

_IGP7825 _IGP7846 
A beautiful ending to a jam-packed weekend. Next time we do this, I need to know just one thing. Anyone know where Michael Jackson got those stylish veils for his kids to wear out in public? If you do, please order me two.


  1. I feel for Emily. I don't blame her for not wanting all those strangers to touch her. Do they consider her good luck or something? Is it the blonde hair? Glad you all survived the trip. Awesome shot of the police!