The Capital City!
THE FORBIDDEN CITY:
It is one of China’s three ancient palaces and over 600 years old.
It is China’s most popular tourist site, receiving over 14 million visitors annually. (The crowd was actually quite polite, courteous, well-behaved; we never felt squished.)
It has 9999 rooms within 980 buildings. It is 180 football fields in volume. There are no trees, just cobbled plazas. Nine is a sacred number, so there are lots of arrangements on the roof of nine dragons, led by a creature on a griffin.
It is one of the largest cultural museums in the world. We saw a collection of gold from Afghanistan that had been saved by the museum curator from the Taliban.
It was home to 24 Chinese emperors. Construction began in 1406 and ended in 1420. It closed in 1912 with the abdication of the last Qing emperor.
It is 2x the size of the Vatican and 3x the size of the Kremlin. It was constructed by 1,000,000 laborer so.
In a straight meridian line we walked from the start of tiananmem square through the palace through the Imperial Garden and up the hill to Jingsam park for an aerial view. It took all day and about 20000 steps.
THE GREAT WALL
We wanted to hike on a section that was rarely visited. Unfortunately, the section that we picked was closed on June 1 for repairs. We had to drive to the Gubeikou area, about 2 hours from the city. It gave us a chance to see the road system, the US hacking technological center, vast apartment complex and some awesome scenery.
We hiked with only an occasional fellow hiker for about 5 miles under a bright blue sky through 23 watchtowers and crumbling ramparts. The watchtowers differ in construction material, the number of tiers, and the pattern of the roofs. The steepness of the trail followed the contour of the mountain. It seemed like another world. It was a fabulous hike!