(Late post. We were there mid-April.)
Day two of our tour (view day one HERE)
It was drizzling slightly that day, so it was pretty cold. Andy (our tour guide for the day) picked us up at the hotel around 9am and took us to see the Forbidden City, where the past emperors of China used to live. (It’s also the place where the students had their field trip in the remake of the movie The Karate Kid, hehe.) He told us that in the past, no one was allowed to enter or leave the palace without the emperor’s permission, thus the name “Forbidden City”. Andy warned us to stay close because over 1000 tourists get lost here every year. I can’t really blame them, the place is huge! And all the structures look the same, so its very easy to get confused. Andy told us to stay on the Dragon Line if we get lost, and he would find us.
Entrance to the Forbidden City
Ezra and me while waiting for our tour guide to buy our tickets.
I forgot what Andy called this, but he told us that this is a place where concubines can go and have tea. The place gives them a nice view outside the Forbidden City, so they can go there and remember their families. Apparently concubines can never leave the Forbidden City once they enter. Most concubines are brought into the place at around 16 and they spend the rest of their lives there, hoping for a chance to see the emperor.
An interesting thing about this structure is that what looks like rock and cement is actually sticky rice mortar with egg whites, fish oil and other stuff. Most of the ancient building in China use this concoction instead of cement.
Andy told us that this creature was called the “Sony”. It’s an animal that spends most of its time just keeping watch over the city. They believe that this creature might have influenced the Sony company in choosing its name. Sony cameras, hahaha. I’ve been searching online but I can’t find anything about a legendary creature called Sony, so I’m not sure if that’s true.
So many tourists despite the gloomy weather that day
My mom and me, taking pictures and videos.
Andy explaining the scratch marks on the giant urns. There were a lot of these inside the Forbidden City. They were used to hold water (if I remember correctly …). In the past, these urns were plated with gold, but there was a time when the English and French invaded the Forbidden City. They raided the palace and even scratched and stole the gold sheets that were on the urns.
Red gloves! LOL
After walking around the Forbidden City, Andy took us to Tong Ren Tang, a Chinese hospital that practices ancient Chinese medicine. Here we got a free foot massage (although we were “encouraged” to tip the masseuse), a free lecture about Chinese medicine and a free consultation with the doctors. They asked us questions and suggested some Chinese medicine that might be useful to us.
Other people in our group taking their shoes off for the massage
Soaking my feet before the massage. The hot water feels good~ Especially after walking around the Forbidden City.
They put stuff that looked like teabags in the water (you can see part of it under my left pinky-toe).
The doctor giving us the free lecture about Chinese medicine.
Ezra looking happy
After the relaxing massage, we headed off to see the Temple of Heaven, a Taoist temple.
Temple of Heaven behind me. Pardon the messy hair, it was really windy that day.
Ezra next to a lamp thingie
We grabbed some lunch after this, then we headed over to the Summer Palace. If I remember correctly, an emperor had this place built as a gift for his mother, sweet~
The lake and the hill is man-made. The emperor had workers make a lake and the dirt that was dug up was used to create the small hill that you see in the picture.
Look at me being a good student, doing the Thinker pose, listening intently to what Andy has to say. Ezra’s lost in another world as usual, staring off into space, wahehe~ Peace Ez!
Dragon boat which we rode
Inside the boat
Our last stop for the day was the Pearl Museum. The guide here gave us a bit of info about pearls and their uses, and showed us how to identify fake pearl from real ones.
Ezra scooping oysters during the short lecture we had about pearls.
The guide asking us how many pearls we think are inside the oyster. I guessed 3, some people said 1 or 2. A few others said none.
There were actually about 20 tiny pearls inside that mollusk. They’re kinda hard to see in this photo. Those white things that look like bubbles (the ones that the guide is pointing to) are actually the pearls. You can see a few more stuck inside the shell. Since these pearls are so tiny, they probably won’t be used for jewelry. They’ll be crushed and used to make pearl powder. It was said that in the past, the “Dragon Lady” used pearl powder everyday, which kept her wrinkle free even at the age of 60. Don’t know if that’s true though, haha.
Here the guide’s telling us how to distinguish natural black pearl from synthetic/dyed ones. If you rub two pearls together, a bit of powder should come out. If the powder that is produced is white, then the pearl is a natural black one, if the powder is black, then the pearl is synthetic.
We ended up buying some pearl powder and pearl creams at the museum, just to see if they really work. I haven’t been using mine regularly though, so I can’t say if it does. I’ve only used it a couple of times, and I haven’t seen any drastic changes in my skin so far. I should be glad that it didn’t cause me to break out at least XD
After the pearl museum, Andy took us back to our hotel. We were all tired from walking around all day, so we filled the bathtub up with hot water and soaked our feet some more.
I really enjoy joining group tours. They may be tiring, but we learn a lot. They’re like those field trips we used to have in school, except we don’t have to write a report about it afterward XD