June 15, 2020

Once Upon a Time in Beijing

The Forbidden City at the heart of Beijing

Last January 9-12, 2013, a new country has been added to my list - it was country number 7, another dream came to life! Together with my Dad and my cousin Ate Judy, we went to China seven years ago. China will always be extra special for us because our grandfather is Pure Chinese. though he is from the south of China, it was still magical to be able to visit his country, and in some ways, our country.

The first destination we have been to, Forbidden City. Located in the Tienanmen part of Beijing, Forbidden City has been one of the symbols of Beijing and of China. It was the imperial Palace of China during the Ming Dynasty up to the end of the Qing Dynasty. For half a millennium  the palace served as the home for the emperors and the whole of his household.

The Forbidden City has been marked as a UNESCO World Heritage Site on 1987. UNESCO listed the site as holding the world's largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world. 

Ate Judy mapping were we are on our way to Tienanmen

The way to the palace is easy from our home in Beijing, the Red Lantern House. With the help of our map, we followed the route all the way to Xidan and then walked our way until we end on a big Major road with a metal barricade. We then headed left until we see the big red walls with many police. The Forbidden City cops are tall, quiet and reserved and they know very few English  But at least, you feel a little bit safer with their presence.

We walked and walk until finally, we saw the Front. It was so cold and chilly even in the middle of the afternoon. But at the sight of the first building in front, it was truly astonishing! As always, it felt like I was in a dream! It was just a picture on my desktop computer but now, with the cold of minus three degrees, I confirmed that yes, I am in Beijing!

The gate facing Tienanmen Square

An Imperial Guard guarding the gate with the portrait of Chairman Mao.

There were a lot of tourists both local and foreign taking pictures of themselves together with their family and friends! Some Chinese people are conversing me in Mandarin and I think they are asking me to take their pictures which I cheerfully agreed and took their photos. They were really nice and friendly people.

The guards are standing firm, guarding over the gates and looking after the tourists. People were flocking on their way to pass the first gate to get inside. Through the first two gate, it is free until you reach the Meridian Gate. Everywhere you look is picture worthy!

The cold Ate Judy posing for a photo when we got through the first gate

One of the main reasons we went to Beijing on a January is for us to hopefully see snow! For all 5 days we were there, unfortunately, there was 0 snow fall. It was quite sad but experiencing Negative degree temperature was very good enough for me! Maybe it was really not yet my time to see it falling but yes, I did see snow on the grounds! It was slippery as it hardened and started to melt at the heat of the sun.

Beijing really is cold in the Winter but as they call it, the city enjoys a Sunny Winter where the suns rays feel mild and comfortable even in negative temperature. But the nights were really cold, which I LOOOVE! I am always a lover of colder weather than the hot ones we have on Philippine Summers! I Love the Philippines but if I would omit something about life here, it's the very hot Summer nights which is so hard for me personally!

We went through and through and took many pictures until we saw this vendor selling hats. I talked to him and we got it for 80 RMB. We bought two of the hats, one for me and another for my Dad. But while we were waiting for change for our 200 RMB, the tourist police went straight in front of us and confiscated all the hats being sold by the vendor. It was full of action and I can't help but feel sorry for the guy so I did not get the change. I don't know if it was a front by the vendor and the police but well, I got the hats.

Me at the Meridian Gate.

Oh! Here's a little something about my outfit. I was wearing a cotton undershirt inside my Navy Terranova woven long sleeve cardigan which I got from SM Mall of Asia. The gray scarf was also from Terranova and the thick trench coat I wore all five Beijing days is from Esprit. I was wearing black leather work-boots and my favorite brown leather bag which carried most of my things including my Nikon camera which was really heavy.

We paid an entrance fee at the Meridian Gate of 30 RMB each and went inside the gates. There I did my Travel dance video using my late iPod Touch where the remaining photos of the Forbidden City trip was in. Oh my I miss my iPod :( So we went on and on and visited two more gate until we decided to get back to the front  and go back home for dinner.

The place is so beautiful and that time of the day where the sun is starting to set. The shadows were full and the faint gleam of the sun makes the beautiful reds, beiges and browns glow like it was the Ancient times. I feel like I am on the actual set of Chinese Movies set on olden times during the days of the Dynasties.

Daddy very cold on a bridge leading to another gate inside the Forbidden City

Coming to Beijing was really a dream! Well, everything about the places I travel is always a dream but there at Beijing, it was extra special. Seeing the country where my Ancestors once were at living and fighting for their lives to survive is just awesome to think. While I was there, the magic was so alive that even I was just a quarter Chinese, I feel so connected to that place even if I don't speak the language nor I look like them much. It was a connection that only me and Beijing can ever explain, something that I will treasure for a lifetime!

Some people say, those who have been there, that Beijing people are not that friendly or even at times, rude. But for me, I did not have my share of those Beijing people because each and every Beijing local I talked to, bought to, were nice and warm. They may not be as friendly as the Filipinos, as refined as the Japanese, or as warm as the Thais, a lot of them were nice. They may not smile at you usually or even look at you, it was the product of their daily battles in life which made them stronger and wiser as they are today!



Never Stop Looking Back,
Stevenson

This post is part of Our World Tuesday, Travel Tuesday, and Betty's My Corner of the World.

36 comments:

  1. Dearest Stevenson,
    What a remarkable trip, even if it was cold!
    My Pieter has been there as a Citizen Ambassador for People to People, visiting universities and mushroom growing related plants. He brought back his book, that they copied in Chinese, without of course bothering the copy rights. Very poor photos, Pieter wished that they'd asked permission in order to receive the plates for printing the good quality.
    Hugs,
    Mariette

    PS Here is the story I compiles from Pieter's trip:
    https://mariettesbacktobasics.blogspot.com/2016/03/part-v-of-husband-pieters-trip-to-east.htmlhttp://mariettesbacktobasics.blogspot.com/2016/03/part-x-of-husband-pieters-trip-to-east.html

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    1. That is so amazing Mariette! It's very much a blessing to be part of a social group and can open more experiences to travel and people aside from just being a travelling tourist like me. I always wanted to interact more with the locals but I never really got chances because I don;t know anybody from the places I visit HAHA. Love Pieter's photos that you share don that post. Sending hugs to the new week Mariette!

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  2. Beautiful Pictures!It is always interesting to view Your blog.Wish I could go there onece in a Lifetime

    Take care and enjoy summer! :)))

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    1. I really hope you will as well dear Anita! And also please visit my Philippines someday too, as I always wanted to see your beautiful Norway as well :) Happy Summer out there Anita! (We wish Summer ends here, the heat is painful)

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  3. ...you are a much more adventurous traveller than I am, my friend!

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    1. Oh Thank you so much my friend Tom! Hmmm not very much because I am not into the extremes like bungee jumping and stuff but I do like exotic and historic adventures so I would have to say yes with you :)

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  4. I've always wanted to visit the Forbideen City - great photos.

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    1. It's a marvelous place Carol! Felt like I was on a movie set :) Thank you so much!

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  5. Wow, that must have been an exciting trip! You are way ahead of me, I love to travel. Great tour and photos. Enjoy your day, wishing you a happy new week!

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    1. It was a great one especially sharing it with my cousin/sister and my Dad. Have a great new week dear Eileen!

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  6. What incredible memories to treasure for all time. To feel such a connection like you did is so precious and it was heart-warming to read about it. Mxx

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    1. Your comments always warms my heart Margaret, I feel very happy that you appreciated the feeling I had while I was on my Grandpa's country. Thank you so much Margaret :)

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  7. Love the photo of you at the gate -- it looks cold there, you are really layered! I have a cousin who lives in China. I doubt I'll ever get there, especially now, so it was terrific to see your wondrful photos.

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    1. Thank you so much dear Jeanie! It really was cold and it was the very first Winter ever I have experienced in my life and temperatures even dropped to -15C at night which is very new to me but I loved it so much (glad I was prepared with a lot of layers). I hope your cousin is safe there at the moment.

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  8. Great photos. Certainly on my list too! Your dad looks like he is soooo cold, all wrapped up!

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    1. That is so true dear Ananka! But just like me, he loves the cold too. But given his age, He was 60 that time, it's amazing that he was able to cope because at the moment at 30, I;m getting a little more weaker to extreme temperatures (I'm aging to be such a weakling :( )

      Thank so much dear Ananka!

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  9. I would love to see China. This will be a cherished memory for you the rest of your life.

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    1. Oh Rose please do when you got the chance. It's a very different world in so many aspects and as you said, truly memorable moments to cherish forever :)

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  10. This is certainly a place on my list as well. I would love to visit mainland China one day. I did live in Taiwan in the 80s for a short time and I hold a master's degree in Chinese Studies, so it definitely would be very interesting. There are a few places in that vast country that I would love to see.

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    1. Dear Carola, it's so amazing that you formally studied about Chinese culture and policy. It is something that is very needed nowadays that the nation is emerging into a very powerful supernation. Me too, I would love to explore more of the autonomous regions in the west particularly Tibet and the Uyghur nation.

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  11. Tienanmen looks majestic. I wish to visit this spot someday. My wishlist will be visit Beijing and take the trans-Mongolian train from Beijing to Moscow. LOL. I have been watching some documentary with my wife and wish that we could experience the trans-Mongolian journey

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    1. Cipu, we are really meant to be friends, it has always always been on my dream list (See #64 on my Bucket List: https://www.stevensonque.com/p/my-bucket-list.html) I really hope both our dreams would come true, Mongolia is a very big dream for me to see, the plains, the Gobi, the people living in the Yurts!

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  12. Great photos. I loved my ipod touch. I went through three of them. They were not very sturdy but very light and handy.

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    1. Now I miss it more Alan! You said it perfectly, very light and handy plus does take a long time to drain if you use it for just music.

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  13. Oh, wow, Stevenson, that is some impressive picture with the guard and the gates!
    It must be the most boring job in the world, though, and without moving that poor man sure was freezing...
    You love cold nights?!! Even now I still have my microwave tiger with me against the cold...

    That looks like a cozy hat, the story around it is weird, though...

    This was a beautiful post, dear Stevenson.
    You nearly make me want to go to Kaliningrad, former K├Ânigsberg where my maternal family is from.

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    1. thank yous o much dear Iris! That is also my favorite photo out of this series, the one with the guard! Oh yes and especially I think his coat is too large for him, it might have been too heavy and uncomfortable for him as he stands for a long time!

      hahaha you are right, it was very weird! Felt like I was in a drama setting HAHA

      Thank you so much dear Iris! Oh my! Kaliningrad is now part of Russia right? So that means you have Russian Ancestors? that is so cool!

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  14. Hey, you're back! I'm so glad to see you blogging again.

    I think it will be a long time before I could visit China. Getting a visa from here is tricky and quite a process. So glad to see your cousin and Dad traveling with you. Traveling with family and friends really adds to the beauty of adventure.

    Stay safe always.

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    1. Thank you Kayni, so happy to be back and to see you again here :)

      Oh trust me, it was very tedious to get that Chinese Visa! I never had such problems getting my US and Schengen the way I had problems with the China Visa. They ask for sooo many things, even papers that are stamped all the way from China which we even paid for Fedex! (You know how expensive Fedex is here at our country)

      But you are right it was all worth it especially with my family with me :)

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  15. So many wonders! I too suspect that the police raid may have been carefully planned and timed for when you were waiting for change. I too prefer the cold or at least moderate climate. There has never been measurable snow here in our city in south Florida. You can escape the cold by exercising, putting on extra layers of clothing and blankets or by starting a fire, but escaping the heat requires air conditioning technology.

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    1. Right Kenneth!!! I really thought of that way too when I started to realize things. But if it did, the vendor was a great actor because he looks so pitiful :(

      Kenneth! We really think alike! That is exactly what I always tell my friends. If it's too cold you can just layer yourself even up to ten layers to keep warmer as much as needed, but hit and humid summers, even if I strip all my clothes off, nothing will happen not unless there is airconditioner.

      Thank you so much dear friend Kenneth! Have a great rest of the week!

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  16. Well who could be anything but friendly to someone with that faccia? You look at little like my nephew in your photo, which is adorable btw! People aren't all that friendly around here, including yours truly sometimes (but I'm working on it). I LOVE your outfit, you have a finely tuned fashion sense. Excellent photo of the Imperial Guard, have I told you how much I admire your street photography?
    With all that walking has anyone every had a sprain or anything that made it hard to keep up the pace? I ask because I tweaked my knee today and had to walk to my car down the street because of the fire, then back again and wow, I can't imagine doing that when traveling.

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    1. Jeanna, my heart was warmed and leapt a lot of times with your kind compliments! Thank you very much! Oh now I wanna see your nephew, I;m very sure hes adorable! Oh I know that, I also have some off moments especially when I worry a lot, I tend to get a bit moody.

      Oh thank you so much dearest Jeanna for noticing! I got that coat on a Thrift store! It was an Esprit and I fell in love with it at first sight! Oh Jeanna, that is so nice of you! Coming from you who shoots some of the best street photographs I have seen here in our blog circle!

      Oh I am so sorry to hear that you tweaked your knee :( That would surely hurt! Please take care and get a lot of rest for those knees.

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  17. Very exotic Place where you travel. I know this only from TV ;-) Thank you for your visit at my Blog,have a nice day and greetings from Germany
    Kirsi

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  18. Nice photos. How exciting it is to visit a new country/place isn't it? What's your country count now?

    Worth a Thousand Words

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  19. Great images, as always! Your hat looks quite warm! Thanks for sharing this part of the world with us.

    It's awesome to see you at 'My Corner of the World' this week! Thanks for linking up.

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