Day 4: Forbidden City and Temple of Heaven

Today we took our trip to the Forbidden City. Before coming here and understanding the history, I couldn’t fathom what people could have done to have their city become forbidden. I also did not realize that when they called it a city they were not joking. It stretched out for so long, miles and miles. We kept on walking through gates and into rectangular compounds with more buildings and gates. Each time I walked towards a gate thinking it was leading to an exit or a main road, there were just more compounds and buildings. Each building had such intricately detailed roof patterns and designs. Everything was beautifully painted in red, gold, blue, and green. I couldn’t help but think about all thee workmanship and precision that had gone into creating this city. It really felt like we had left Beijing.


Later in the day, we all got to ride in bike carriages through an old city that had existed since the Chin Dynasty called the Hutong. Riding through at first glance, the area appeared to be impoverished. The streets were very narrow, buildings were crowded together, there was a lot of wall art, and the roads weren’t very smooth. However, I started noticing luxurious cars parked outside the homes. I later found out that although the area appeared to be for a lower class the people living there were very rich. Their houses had a lot of historical significance and thus it was basically a privilege to live there, immersed in so much culture and history. Some of their furniture, artwork, and instruments had been around for about 1,300 years! So even though, urbanization was happening all around and the inhabitants has enough money to join in on the fun, they still chose to live there to perverse their history. The rich were hiding in plain sight!

After our visit to the Hutong, we went to the Temple of Heaven. The Temple was at the center of a large compound and was surrounded by a large ring walkway. The Temple had multiple tiers with intricate red, gold, blue, and green designs. We learned about how people in the past went there to sacrifice animals as offerings. Once again, it felt like we had left Beijing. I was starting to love how many places were in Beijing but still apart from Beijing in a sense. You could be in the city but walk into a historical sight and have your surroundings completely transformed around you.


We took lots of pictures outside the temple and got up as close as possible as we could not enter into the temple. Later on in the day, we had a Taichi class in a park with an expert instructor. We learned a few moves in sections then started to put them together at the end to form our routine. I had never participated in Taichi before and to be honest I wasn’t really sure what it was. I learned that it required calmness and good control of the body. Each move was important and set you up for the next one, so it was really important to have good balance throughout. A crowd slowly gathered around us because who wouldn’t love to see a bunch of foreigners attempting Taichi in a part. It was great pretending to feel like a professional taichi artist for the day.




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