Day 4 – Forbidden City, Hutong Tour, & Temple of Heaven

On our fourth day, we were up at around 7:30 to get ready. We made our way down to breakfast and I had my usual potato and bread breakfast. We then all got onto the bus for our next cultural visit which was the Forbidden City. As we got out of our bus, we made our way over to a line that leads us underground to the other side of the highway. We saw a Parliament building before entering into the Forbidden city. I noticed many native people like to take pictures of our group which is also a strange concept. We walked into the Forbidden City and the buildings were so rich with color and decor. Joe our tour guide told us about some of the dynasties and reasons for the Forbidden city. We walked through the first gate and right after Joe taught us about the lions that stand before the gate. The lion on the right is a female because females are always right, as he said, and it has the child under its paw. The lion on the left is the male because it holds the universe under its paw. We then were given 40 minutes to walk to the end. The buildings were pretty similar as you walked further to the back until we reached a garden. It was beautiful back there. We again met up with our group and got back on the bus. We made our way over to the Hutong tour. We got off the bus and arrived to this small village-like town. We got on these carriages and had a local bike ride us there. The breeze was nice along with our friendly driver. We got off of our ride and walked to Mr. Jong’s house. There was a dog in his courtyard and my friend Candice tried petting it, but it snapped at her so we didn’t try petting any other dogs. Mr. Jong was a local, who has lived there since he was born. We learned many facts from him, like how women were not supposed to leave the first gate of their home. We saw many photos of his family over the years. As we were leaving, Candice and I decided to get a picture with him. He did not speak english but we said thank you (“xie xie”) and left the house. We were walking in the court yard looking at the garden when he came out and signaled my phone to take a picture of us. He had us pose by a tree and some other plants. Then he ripped off some leaves of a plant and gave it to us and signaled to eat it. I was weary to try it but ate it and it tasted like a spice similar to basil. We had to say goodbye again to the kind and wise Mr. Jong to catch up with our group. We got back on our carriage and when we got off, we were greeted by many merchants. In the sweltering heat, I decided to buy a fan which may not have been the best decision as it just fanned hot air to my face. We got on the bus and rode to our next location which was the Temple of Heaven. There were a good amount of tourists but it wasn’t too bad. We got some pictures and walked over the the gardens to meet up with our Tai-chi teacher. He would show us movements and we would follow. It was a relaxing activity, especially in the quiet gardens. We left and when we got back to the hotel, I had some Goldfish and knocked out at 7pm because I was so exhausted.

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