Day 2: Entering the Forbidden City (紫禁城)
Destination: Forbidden City (紫禁城)
We woke up bright and early for what I would arguably called the most brutal part of this journey and also the main reason why we visited Beijing. Even though it was early September and Beijing was (questionably) transiting to autumn weather, the heat was brutal and for some reason, it was a lot hotter inside the Forbidden City. I strongly recommend bringing an umbrella to fend off some of the heat.
You can get an audio tour guide in the front so that you can travel at your own pace. The Forbidden City is pretty big so prioritize the places that you want to see for sure due to time
and stamina–mostly stamina because I am weak. The audio guide will also serve as your map, which will come in handy later on.
It was mostly empty in one of the side courtyards and so we decided to sit on one of its benches. We sat there for a while, taking in the majestic beauty of the Forbidden city. Even though it was just a side courtyard, it was still humongous and it seemed to swallow you whole due to its sheer size. It was an amazing experience just sitting there and imagining the Emperor of Ancient China strolling by, accompanied by his servants.
To be honest, it was an amazing experience to even be able to visit the Forbidden City. A few generations ago, something like this would have been unthinkable. If you entered the Palace, you couldn’t simply just leave whenever you wanted. I also fought like hell for that picture of the Dragon Throne. Everyone wanted a group photo and a selfie with it.
At the same time.
The Forbidden City is divided up into several sections and is made up of beautiful, winding alleyways. We spent about 30 minutes going around in circles trying to get out of one compound so that we could visit the Concubine’s living quarters.
One of the empty buildings was turned into a makeshift convenience store/souvenir shop. Since it was so hot, I bought an ice-cream cone but it melted as they were making it since it was so hot. They don’t really sell food inside so be sure to pack a snack or lunch if you’re planning to see everything.
We also made a quick stop by the Imperial Garden, which served as a private retreat for the royal family. There is a lot of cool rock sculptures decorating the garden. Bathrooms are also located here so it’s a nice place to take a break and just relax. Be sure to bring your own toilet paper as not all bathrooms in China readily supply toilet paper.
We booked our flight to Beijing because of the Forbidden City and it didn’t disappoint. I would like to come back in the future and finish walking the palace where the ancient emperors of China once resided.
We headed back in the late afternoon for an early dinner and so we decided to go to Quanjude Roast Duck because you cannot be in Beijing and not eat the famous Beijing duck.
You put the duck into the wrap along with some sauce and onions and bite into pure goodness. The duck here was not the best I have had but it is not bad. The restaurant is located near Wangfujing Street so you can walk around after you’re done eating. We opted for some ice-cream from a shop down the street to cool down after dinner.
End Day 2