|Tuesday in Beijing dawned with another morning of constant rain while we walked around Tianenman Sqaure and the Forbidden City. The Square was filled with visitors and tour guides, some yelling loudly and others using amplified sound. It made for a cacophony of sounds while trying to listen to our tour guide through our earphones. Tianenman Square has Mao's mausoleum as its focal point, but we did not stop in to say hello, despite him beckoning to us from outside the entry.
Instead, we headed to the Forbidden City which is in the heart of Beijing. This is China's most magnificent architectural complex (says my guidebook). It was completed in 1420 and is a lasting monument of dynastic China from which 24 emperors ruled for nearly 500 years. It is quite an amazing place with lots of uneven surfaces that would be dangerous even without water covering every surface. Miraculously, we made it through with no injuries.
After a bit of time back at the hotel for lunch, we headed to the Summer Palace which served an an imperial retreat for the Qing dynasty. The palace is known mostly for the Emperor Dowager Cixi who was one of China's most powerful women. She had the palace rebuilt twice, once following destruction by French and English troops and again after it was plundered during the Boxer Rebellion. She also built a huge "marble boat", paying for it with funds meant for the modernization of the Imperial Navy. Yet another policitian...
The day ended with a lecture on Beijing by one of the faculty on the trip. I am happy to say the lecture was NOT offered by the UCLA faculty member traveling with us, as it was disappointing for many reasons. Suffice it to say I was glad I brought a glass of wine into the meeting room with me...and others in the group wished they'd had one (or two.)
Tomorrow morning we head for the Temple of Heaven and then fly to Xi'an in the afternoon to visit the Terra Cotta soldiers.