Beijing - concubine search
"Life time dream"
My life time dream since a child in Indonesia, was to see the place from where our ancestor grandmother ran away while a concubine at the Forbidden City, a family legend.
So, I spent my birthday (January 20, 2006) in the Forbidden City at the Imperial Palace looking at the concubine quarters, which were very small, just enough room for a large bed with curtains, a chest or two for clothes and a low table with two chairs for something to eat. There were at least 6 rooms there each a little nicer than the other, depending on rank and favor. The Emperor's rooms on the other hand were immense, Man-sized vases and art, a huge bed (ten can sleep easily) with private gardens, and secret exits. All of the rooms had high doorsteps so evil spirits could not enter. The art was exquisite and eventhough enclosed, everyone pressed their noses to the glass to take it all in. The Imperial Palace is immense and divided into two sections, right and left, one side for the reigning emporor, the other for the extended family. It was winter in Beijing and VERY cold, I went with a little tour and on Continental's reduced point ticket special. China is really worth the time spent in the air (more than 14 hours from Miami), bring a good book and take a pain killer for the smaller and smaller plane seats. And that was just my first day in China. We stayed at Days Hotel. This hotel is also called the "baby" hotel by the Chinese, because parents from all over the world stay in this hotel when they pick up their adopted children, all girls and the occasional deformed or handicapped boy. It sounds like the Babel Tower at breakfast when most of the guests socialize with each and other guests in many languages. The staff was impeccable and extremely well trained, helpful, attentive and very caring. "(KNEE-HOW) is the Chinese wy of saying hello. BTW there is a huge market next door, I bought a LOT of pearls there, they string them before your eyes. I bought some gorgeous black pearl necklaces and several pink. Also a lot of jade bracelets and necklaces, all well-priced after extensive bargaining, it is an art and runs like a friendly joke!!!
"frozen Summer Palace"
The next day in Beijing we went to the the Summer Palace, indescribably beautiful, I wondered at the time the artists had spent PAINTING UPSIDE DOWN on the long Corridor. The Marble Boat, and the Palace and the froZen lake are extremely picturesque.
"The great WALL"
We also went to see some local Hutang people, visited their homes and petted the lion dog, ate some peanuts with another, and rode around in the bicycle rickshaws; we ate at various restaurants, shopped everyday at different markets, the Pearl Market, Silk Market, etc. fabulous buys, but you must bargain very hard. The great Wall is enormous!! IT IS HARD TO CLIMB IN -8 DEGREES WEATHER, I got "burned lungs" - comes with very high fever and bad sore throat. Chinese docs make housecalls to hotels, just ask the tourguide, they fix up anything for you, including room massages, food deliveries, and vendors that sell just to you. Don't be shy in contracting for a ride to a restaurant in a rickshaw, negotiate BEFORE you get in, and observe what the Chinese pay. ATM's are everywhere. Smile a lot and be patient.