The Forbidden City in the centre of Beijing is our destination this morning - it's a dull day but no wind and a pleasant 22 or thereabouts.
Our hotel is close to the venue so we set off on foot and walked into the main south gate - a massive entrance on it's own (sorry forgot to mention that we are sharing this day with 3000 other Chinese tourists!!!!)
Tony our tour leader is out ahead holding his APT placard but no, we have not all been given the same coloured caps - seems we are a much more mature group and really do not need those!! (Thank goodness) However, have to say that having the APT placard raised up somewhere up there is fron is very comforting knowing that's the directionw e are heading. It was very easy to get lost in amongst the other 3000 people trying to go in the same direction! Actually it's probably closer to 5000!!!!
So first main gate and wow! into the next area - what an amazing palce - through intot the next are with that placard still in sight up front. Stop for a brief touristy overview of where we are and whaht this palce represents etc - on through the NEXT gate - whewe must be near the end . . .oh Tony wants to show us the map of the Forbidden City layout - we're at Location 2 - and there's 14 to go - what???? We've gone that far and we are only THERE????
Anyway to make a long story short - the immensity of the Fobidden City is amazing - we walked in one direction only for and hour and a half heading forther north into the Forbidden City and we weren't even in the inner sanctum yet!!! Us and the other 5000 tourists!!! 300 photos later (I'm sure they all look the same!) and we come out the back gate, walk for another 20 minutes (still following that placard!) and onto the bus - whew! Rest time.
Now, we are off to the Summer Palace - another similar venue and another 2 km walk!!!! Ahhhhh... Dear old Daphne has never walked so far for years but she managed and well done to her! Once again and amazing place and something you can only imagine unless you visit.
The day was still dull and now very polluted and my asthma played up something fierce. Thank goodness though for my ventolin - I have doubled up on my preventative stuff and used the ventolin 4 times a day so okay in the short term. I think a little bronchitis is probably not helping either.
A visit also after the Summer Palace, to the freshwater pearl factory - and like any other pearl, jade, china or whatever factory that you get taken to on bus tours - all very nice but also very expensive. Very intimidating also have 3 people follow your every footstep in the shop wanting you to buy, buy, buy!
Evening - a Peking Duck Dinner at a local up market restaurant is on the agenda and it certainly turned out to be just that. We had a very private room with a HUGE round table all decorated immaculately - the room in iteself was amazing with Ming Dynasty murals on the wall and vases everywhere. A beautiful evening in an amazing restaurant.