Dear Matt and Mar,
[10.08.18] With hindsight, perhaps we should have made today a slower day, haa haa haa, but that would not have been possible. To enter Forbidden City one needed tickets, and the number of tickets were limited per day, also taking into consideration we only have 4 full days left, and those included the Weekend (to which I try to avoid tourists’ hotspots), and on Monday most of the tourists’ attractions would be closed.
So today, which is a Friday, is the only day that fits our plan for a Forbidden City visit. On the previous night I dove into the Internet and managed to buy the tickets, and spent the rest of the night debating whether to take the Tripod (again), luckily your mother managed to convince me, and it was such a great decision.
The Forbidden City literally sits to the North of Tiananmen Square (where we had such an “interesting” time yesterday, haa haa haa). So it made sense to me to get off at the same underground station, Tiananmen East... oh what a mistake that was...
I was hoping there was a way to get to the Forbidden City without having the go past the security that took us into Tiananmen Square... and of course there wasn’t any, haa haa haa. Now facing with an even longer queue than yesterday, and after discussing with your mother, we’d decided to hop back on the underground to the next station, Tiananmen West.
Haa haa haa, well the queue was perhaps as long as it was at Tiananmen East, but it was definitely faster, much master. In only few minutes we were all marching with the crowd toward the Forbidden City. I was getting a little worried, the closer we got to our destination, the longer the bigger the crowd became.
In the past (many years ago) one could just walk into the Forbidden City, but with the increasing mobility ability of the population whether it be domestically or internationally, meant the number of visitors were becoming unmanageable. That’s why I think the government introduces ticketing system for Forbidden City, and they apparently limit the number of visitors to only 80,000 per day (only, haa haa haa).
To be honest I think all 80,000 people decided to turn up at the same time as we did, haa haa haa. I thought I’d had to go to a ticketing office to pick up the tickets, and after a bit of a search I’d found a very nice lady who informed me that I should proceed straight to the entrance, the passport number (which was required as part of buying the tickets) would already have been entered into the system.
A quick call to your mother (you were all hiding somewhere from the sun) to ask her to catch up at the entrance gate, it was so hot we’d decided to get a fan and that was when your Chinese lessons came in super handy, haa haa haa.
“Papa, we walked all this way, queue up for so long just to see a few buildings?”, haa haa haa, it was a struggle for you two, but you both were brilliant! There wasn’t an ounce of complaint, but you were slightly less engaged, then your mother had a great idea. About a third of the way in, we found a station which rent out one of those audio guide, as it turned out they were brilliant!
From zero engagement, Matt was 100% engaged, now walking with a purpose, listening to everything before moving on, Mar on the other hand managed to somehow switched from English to Korean... haa haa haa, it did took me a short while to switch it back to English again, haa haa haa.
So many photos opportunities, trying to keep the crowd from the photo was a bit of a challenge, but the visitors were very courteous, and so even under the almost unbearable heat everyone was having a fantastic time, we’d even found a shop at the right time and stocked up on about 10 bottles of water, haa haa haa.
Forbidden City was fantastic... the history behind every building, the stories behind every door, the echo of every footstep was just unfathomable, the size of the place was mind boggling. I remember being here once before with your grandmother, but that was yonks ago, somehow even with all the crowd and the heat, I do enjoy this trip more than the last, one’s taste definitely changes with time :-)
I think we made it almost to the end, but you were becoming less and less engage, and as it was already past noon, we decided to call it the morning and find somewhere to eat.
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LUNCH! haa haa haa.
Of course being in Beijing, one had to try Peking Duck (or is it Beijing Duck now?), I guess there were several choices, but after asking uncle Google, one of the most famous place was not too far, exiting Forbidden was an event in itself, did we really walk all this way! Haa haa haa.
By the time we’d reached the restaurant your mother was virtually running on empty, and I was praying there would be no queue at the restaurant (Quanjude), well, I think even if all 80,000 Forbidden City visitors turn up to this restaurant at the same time, there would still be no queue, how big was this restaurant?
Lunch was superb, which made your mother happy, so we were all safe once more, haa haa haa. Without knowing this, the restaurant sat along one of the most well known shopping pedestrian, Wangfujing. We were having a great time (jet fountain and all), and when we decided to walk to the underground we came across the infamous snack street, well it was more like a short alleyway, and it was fantastic as well as being quite sad.
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Wangfujing Snack Street
All sorts of weird and wonderful snacks could be found here, and I think the fame came from the ‘strange’ snacks, fried scorpions as an example. That one got to me, they were displaying still alive scorpions impaled through a long BBQ stick, that was unnecessary, if you want to eat it, fine just get it over with, but to do that just to draw a crowd was terrible, and you two felt the same.
To keep things light, instead of heading to another attraction, your mother wanted to cook with local ingredients! To be honest she just wanted to use the kitchen, since it was there, haa haa haa, heck, she even wanted to use the washing machine (at home she doesn’t even walk near the washing machine, in fact I don’t even think she knows where our washing machine is, haa haa haa).
Just by luck, the local supermarket was literally 3 minutes walk from our apartment, and your mother had a great time, having to weigh the eggs was new to me, haa haa haa, all part of the fun living in a new community, haa haa haa. The food was superb (as always), and you two were kind of glad we didn’t go anywhere else, haa haa haa.