China: Forbidden City: March 2016

Good morning everyone, it is the weekend! Today’s post is leaving the wonderful mountains and forest for the wonders of China and its capital city, Beijing. Luckily for you reader, for the time being I’m saving you a 14 hour flight. Hopefully my story will convince you to take that long flight (just try not to get stuck in the middle seat). Little bit of a disclaimer: this was actually my second day in China, the tale of the first day I will tell you but I have to dig through my memories a bit. The jet lag was kicking my butt that day.

I had the good fortune to visit China with my Nana (dad’s mom) in the spring of 2016. We went on a land tour and river boat cruise on the Yangtze (with Viking). Before getting on the boat we went to a couple of cities, beginning with Beijing. Beijing in March is cold and windy. The wind, as biting as it was, was a good thing because it cleared much of the smog away. Our second day in Beijing we visited Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. We actually did not get to go into the Square because there were government officials present; when they are the main square is closed to tourists.


Anyway our tour group walked along the outside of the square with hundreds of other people heading towards the Forbidden City. Along the sidewalk to the Forbidden City guards are stationed. Each guard has a fire extinguisher because people have set themselves and other things on fire in the past. You enter the Forbidden City through gates that pass through towers. The entire palace is a fantastic sight: towering red walls, dull yellow-gold roofs and between is exquisite detail with stairs and rails made of white stone. Dragons in gold on green landscapes decorate everything with a stone turtle or lion pair here and there. There are people everywhere but the courtyards between the towers are so large that you don’t feel particularly crowded.
America is a young enough country that we don’t have ancient buildings. Whereas countries like China have well preserved ancient buildings in the heart of the city. The sheer amount of details that are on these buildings, towers, and stair cases is incredible. Enormous amounts of time and resources have gone into these buildings to maintain their original grandeur. In the midst of thousands of years of history, an Asian woman, most likely Chinese but I try not to assume, asks, in broken English, to take a picture with me. I tend to go with things and said yes. She was the first of about a dozen young Asian women that took their picture with me in the Forbidden City. Some of them spoke no English and requested a picture with hand gestures and holding up a camera.

So far as I understand it they wanted to take a picture with me because of my lighter colored hair. I am nowhere near what I would consider blonde but for these ladies it was enough to make me look different and possibly a bit of a novelty to them. What got me about the whole situation was that here we were in the middle of a beautiful palace brimming with history and I, an American tourist, is what they choose to take a picture with and of. I found the experience odd at first, later to be intriguing and overall confusing but I took everything as a compliment. As you can see the situation caused a variety of emotions and even now I can’t pinpoint one.

Please follow McGeeTravelTales to read my next post! Next story will be Wednesday September 27th.

***All pictures were taken by Laci McGee except one and I cannot remember who in our tour group took the photo of my Nana and me.

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