Momo had stayed home that night, maybe because we put a huge terra cotta pot in front of the garden door. Since there was no rush I had breakfast at home, eating the two tea eggs from Lucy and one of the melons from yesterday. The tea eggs are actually not cooked in tea but first 5 minutes in a soya sauce and water mix, then cracked and then cooked again for 5 minutes. You can according to Lucy add some salt, ginger, chilli or Szechuan pepper. Whatever is your fancy.
In between I updated the blog a bit, using the time to have internet available that was strong enough to upload pictures. All done while using VPN of course. China is definitely not easy for blogging.
Around noon I was ready to go. Since I met Babsi at 6pm for Peking duck there was no need to go home before. I took the metro again and arrived just at the beginning of Tiananmen Square. And right away at the exit of the metro there was a checkpoint. By now I knew that I can’t just politely line up and get run over by the Chinese. I used my elbows to stay in line!
Then it was a very long walk over the square. It was really impressive even with all the checkpoints, it’s just one huge empty square even though it was full of people. It looked still kind of empty. I can’t even imagine how it was on the 4th of June in ’89.
Babsi told me not to enter via the main gate since there were a lot more checkpoints but through the garden on the left side. The fee of 3 Yuan was worth it to leave most of the checkpoints behind me. Also it was an oasis of peace compared to the hustle and bustle at the main gate. Walking through the garden I arrived just at the lower end of the ticket office. I think there were at least 30 of them but with queues everywhere.
After I had my ticket I stopped for a quick bite to eat. The restaurant looked a bit depressing but the vegetables were good. Thus fortified I was ready for the Forbidden City.
One more check and then finally I was inside along with hundreds of other people. The Forbidden City turned out to be one hall after another, all called very similar names and none of the halls were for entering. The first one was the most important. This was noticeable by the little guardians on the roof end. The more little protectors were up there the more important the building.
Therefore the pushing in front of the door with the throne was unbelievable. I thought I would suffocate there. But I did it by pushing as bad as the Chinese I fought for a place in the front row and shot my picture. You judge for yourself if it was worth it.
As it turned out the halls behind the first one looked the same and had also (in my eyes) the same throne. I didn’t notice a difference.
What astonished me was that the place looked dirty and quite deteriorated. The audio guide said that the Chinese government is providing large funds every year for the upkeep plus with all the entrance fees, I was not sure what the were doing with the money. Seemed such a shame to let this all go to shambles. Once at the end I turned around and walked back through one of the side alleys and started again with the right wing. Here the treasury was housed. With a little extra entrance fee I was away from the masses and here the Forbidden City was already a lot more interesting. When I was finally at the end of the city again I climbed up the last hall and had an ok view of the roofs of the city. I saw a tower across the street that seemed to be a lot higher and thought about going there.
Once out and in front of the park I decided against it. I was tired and needed to walk a lot more to get to the right metro for the meeting with Babsi. This was a very unwise decision since I arrived 30 minutes earlier at the meeting point and from up there I would have had the best view over the Forbidden City especially on a clear day such as it was.
Never mind there was still another full day ahead of me and at the time I didn’t know what I was missing. I walked for about 30 minutes back to the metro, found my meeting point and was happy to see a Baskin Robbins at the corner. That’s where I stopped and waited for Babsi and while doing so I had a small portion of ice cream.
Also very unwise (maybe it was the day for unwise decisions) since the Peking duck was still waiting for me.
But on vacation I am allowed to make mistakes, if not now then when?
So right after I finished my ice cream Babsi was already waiting for me. We walked for a bit to get to the Kerry Hotel in which complex we would have the duck. Actually only me since Babsi is vegan.
In good restaurants the duck has to be pre-ordered and The Horizon is supposed to be one of the best.
Since it was only me for the duck we cut the order in half and I only ate a half. We had a table from where I could see right into the grilling kitchen. I’m not really sure if you call it so since it is done in a wood oven.
Since the duck was pre-ordered it was at the table in minutes with the chef carving it in front of me. It is served with buns, pancakes and a ‘set’ which includes spring onions, cucumber, some sauce and sugar. The Chinese like to dip the crackling skin into it.
I then asked the waiter to show me how to prepare it. Always best to ask before making a fool out of me. Really loved the taste and was especially happy that I ordered when I looked at what Babsi was eating. She didn’t look happy at all with her tofu.
After dinner and since we were already around the corner we went to Atmosphere a bar on the 80th floor of the building next door.
From up there you have a great view all over town, plus they make lovely G&T.
After two of them we were ready to call it a night. We eventually even found a taxi and were home in no time. Yours, Pollybert