Now I know how movie stars feel regarding paparazzi. In addition to staring and taking our pics, they also filmed us. I honestly thought that in the year 2013, with capitalism on the rise over the course of this generation, we wouldn't be of great interest to them. I was wrong. The senior was even asked by some college-aged Chinese guys to pose in pics with them. I was so amused that I didn't get a pic of her posing for her pic. I can't help but wonder what sort of rounds that pic made amongst their friends. At least I can rest assured in the fact that it didn't make it onto You Tube or Facebook since these aren't permitted thanks to the Chinese censors.
After an almost ten hour flight from London to Beijing, we got checked into our hotel and spent the bulk of our first afternoon resting. The next day, we set off on our first full day of sightseeing in Beijing. We kicked it off in Tiananmen Square...
and the Forbidden City, home of the emperor.
Along the four corners of the roofs, you can see decorative critters. I was really intrigued by them. They are animals and mythological beasts. And the wire running along the top of them serves as a conductor in case it's struck by lightning.
There were many halls located within the Forbidden City that served a variety of purposes.
I took the pic below because I liked the story our Chinese tour guide Stanley told us. In the temple leading up to the area above where the emperor would sit, there was a set of stairs with a central area that had a scene with a dragon. This was reserved for the sole use of the emperor since he is represented by the dragon. His empress is represented by the phoenix. The only time anyone besides the emperor and empress may use these symbols is on the day of their marriage.
We spent a good bit of the morning here and kept stumbling across doorways that served as frames for interesting views in the distance.
After leaving the Forbidden City, we went to the oldest part of the city center that still has hutongs, which are courtyards surrounded by residences. Because the streets amongst the hutongs are really just glorified alleys, we rode in rickshaws.
We ate a traditional Chinese lunch in the home of a family who lives in the hutong...
Later in the afternoon, we went to the Summer Palace where we took a boat ride on Kumming Lake.
We rode on the wooden boats seen below, not the decorative stone one seen above.