A Travellerspoint blog

Stunning Structures

Beijing, China

View Around the World! - Part 2 on Where2FromHere's travel map.

In addition to the breathtaking beauty of the thousands of miles of meticulously manicured and landscaped roadways, we encountered another unexpected finding during our visit to China. My previous misconception was that the Oriental population was always very "Pushy". I attributed this to the fact that since they lived in such a heavily populated area they had to "push" to get anywhere in the massive crowds. Quite the contrary, we found the Chinese people to be remarkably friendly and welcoming. I imagine that after the long pandemic and period of isolation from foreign "big-nosed" visitors (as they affectionately refer to Westerners), they were pleasantly surprised and delighted to see the thousands of us who had come to explore their country. It was really apparent they were not accustomed to seeing tall, blond, blue-eyed individuals. Our distinct physical features seemed to pique their curiosity and fascination. Adding to the immersive cultural experience was the unique local dress worn by the Chinese people. Their traditional attire, so distinct from our own Western styles, served as a tangible reminder that we were fully immersed in the heart of Chinese civilization.


As part of our World Cruise, Royal Caribbean arranged a day for us to explore the Forbidden City and the Wonder of the World, the Great Wall of China. The Forbidden City is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Beijing, offering a unique insight into China's imperial past. It was the political and ritual center of China for over 500 years, serving as the home to 24 emperors, their families, and servants during the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1644–1911) dynasties. It was named "Forbidden City" due to the fact that commoners were forbidden access to the complex, emphasizing the elite and exclusive nature of the emperor's domain. The Forbidden City was constucted between 1406 and 1420 by over 1 million laborers. It is composed of more than 90 palace compounds including 98 buildings. According to legend, it has 9,999.5 rooms, as supposedly having 10,000 would incur the wrath of the God of Heaven. It was transformed into the Palace Museum in 1925 when the last emperor, Puyi, was expelled.


The Forbidden City is divided into the Outer Court and Inner Court, with the Outer Court being where emperors had absolute godly power and held solemn public ceremonies, and the Inner Court being where emperors enjoyed domestic bliss. It is not just a palace but also a fortress, with each level designed to protect the emperor and throne at the center. The outer walls are 25 feet high, and the whole city is surrounded by a moat 170 feet wide. The giant gates were always locked, and no one could enter or leave without the emperor’s permission, hence its name.
The Forbidden City is a micro-city in its own right, with hidden symbols everywhere. The roofs are decorated with tiny statues of creatures, such as the Phoenix, lions, Pegasus, dragons, seahorses, and goats. The most important people had nine statues on their roof, as nine is the most important number in Chinese culture.


The Forbidden City is over 178 acres and it took us about 2 hours to walk the entire, fascinating complex, with its unique architectural design, exquisite decorations, and historical significance.

Outside of the Forbidden City was observed everyday life in the densely populated city of Beijing, including food vendors, a scooter store and the "bird's nest" for the 2008 Olympics and 2022 winter Paralympics.



We saw a glimpse of the Great Wall of China in the daylight just before arriving at the restaurant where we were treated to a fabulous Chinese meal, featuring appetizers of Beijing Style Marinated Beef, Poached CHicken with Crushed Peanut, Blanced Spinach, Fresh Walnut Salad and Lotus Root, Seafood Hot & Sour soup, served family style on a large glass lazy-susan in the center of our table. We also feasted on entrees of Peking Duck, Mandarin Fish, Pork Tenderloin, Braised Beef Belley, Kungbao Chicken, Wok-fried Asparagus, Fried Egg along with a Chinese beef and Refreshing Riesling wine.
Following dinner we had a chance to visit a "regular Western style" restroom which was a nice chance from the squat toilets which are so prevalent throughout ladies rooms in China. Then we were off to our next adventure ... truly the highlight of the trip and the primary motivation for my desire to sign up for the World cruise.


Before coming to China I never realized that The Great Wall is not a single wall but rather a collection of fortifications. They were built across the historical northern borders of China to protect the Chinese Empire from various nomadic groups. Its construction began in the 7th century BC, with sections built by different states during the Warring States period. The most extensive and best-preserved version of the wall dates from the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) and stretches for approximately 5,500 miles. The construction of the Great Wall involved the backbreaking toil of tens of thousands of people, including conscripted soldiers, slaves, convicts, and ordinary people. The wall was built using local resources, such as stones from the mountains and rammed earth in the plains. In some cases, glutinous rice flour was used in making the mortar or binding material to bind the bricks. It is estimated that 400,000 workers lost their lives while building the Qin wall alone. The architectural style of the Great Wall is a marvel in the history of construction, with walls, passes, watchtowers, signal towers, moats, and other defensive structures. Royal Caribbean organized local performers in costumes at the base of the wall and a laser light show. Plus the world travelers were given the opportunity to walk the wall at night without other visitors present. It was an incredible sight!



Here's a link to a video of an aerial view of the Great Wall of China, which might help you see its scale and structure better.
Although what we saw was only a small portion of this amazing feat of the Chinese to protect their border, it was truly spectacular!!

Posted by Where2FromHere 01:54 Archived in China

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