|A glimpse of the line.|
|Mao Memorial Building|
|One of the line enforcers.|
Eventually, we got inside. His body lay within a glass room and there were hundreds, if not thousands, of bouquets of yellow flowers brought to him by mourners. He lay there, preserved, glowing brightly in an orange hue.
Next, we went to the Forbidden City whose entrance is just opposite Tiananmen Square. We waited in what felt like another endless line, except this time we also had to deal with umbrellas. No, it wasn't raining, but the clear blue day that brought the end of rain also brought cancer-causing UV rays and the locals were having none of it. The problem is that umbrellas have spikey parts and when you get thousands of them together, you get me worrying that my eyes will be poked out. I managed to keep them intact, although my hair didn't survive so well.
We bought our tickets and went inside the palace, which was a sprawling complex with ornate designs covering every square inch. There were even a few museums with exorbitantly rare jewels, such as a rare jade bowl inlaid with gold and rubies. Everything in the Forbidden City was extravagant, beautiful, elegant, and all manner of other adjectives. After an hour I was feeling de-sensitized to it all, and a little dehydrated (maybe there was something to the umbrellas after all).
|Outside the Forbidden City|
One thing that took me aback on this modern street was the relative irreverence with which the merchants treated the Communist party. Sure, China has come a long way since Mao, but stuffed toy pigs dressed in Communist ware, t-shirts with red stars, and any object imaginable imprinted with Mao's face were available for purchase. I guess sales trump culture.
As we were making our way down the hutong, a man walked by with a goose in tow. The goose had a sign around its neck with something written in Chinese, presumably asking for money. They were a big hit with the crowd and people were petting the goose. We stopped to watch and for some reason the man decided to pick up his goose and thrust him in J's arms. He then requested my camera to take a picture of us. We took some pictures and then J quickly gave the goose back.
At the end of the evening, we were hoping to snag ourselves a Peking, or Beijing, duck (the signature dish of the city) but most of the restaurants were closed by then. We settled on a restaurant that had a huge menu with pictures and English "translations."