Day 2 and we started off with the enticingly named “Forbidden City”. They weren’t kidding when they added City to its name. It is freakishly huge and seems to go on forever. They sure loved exaggeration when they named the halls though – Gate of Divine Might, Hall of Supreme Harmony, Hall of Military Eminence, Palace of Heavenly Purity, Hall of Mental Cultivation, and Palace of Tranquil Longevity.One would think we were in some city of noble boons coming true.
After a time, I completely lost track of where we were supposed to be on the map. The Imperial Garden, however, was a sight even in the dry winter. It must be gorgeous during the spring with the numerous trees in bloom.
Just getting out of the Forbidden City near the moat outside of it, we see this lovely family taking a break from their own trip. The young boy shyly comes up to us and slowly enunciates “Where are you from?” Such an ice-breaker as we replied and they actually offered us snacks and smiles. Though they couldn’t help us with our next route (they were tourists themselves), it was a warm meet that seemed to thaw the cold around a wee bit.
As we walked around looking for the subway, we unintentionally passed by the hutons Beijing is popular for. Most of them seemed to be closed for the spring festival. Nevertheless, it was a pleasant walk down the avenue glancing at shops that sold knick knacks and food of various types.
The Tianenman Square was our next stop and even before we got there, though the subway station itself we witnessed the ceremonial march of soldiers towards the Square. They seemed to be used to the attention and camera clicking of the tourists. The place felt like the equivalent of Jalianwalabagh in India and had more security than most other tourist spots. It’s right between the Forbidden City and the Beijing Museum. Like most symbols of struggle in history, it seemed to be struggling to elicit the same emotions from the people of this generation. That being said, there were still photos being taken with flags and salutes by the little children even if in innocence, indicating a trace of loyalty.
We headed next to the Beijing Olympic stadium and were greeted by the lovely site of kite sellers displaying their ware, interestingly in an endless string of kites just soaring with the strong wind there in the open. To my utter glee, one of them let me even hold the end of the string and at least for a few moments I actually enjoyed the experience of letting the wind and the kites take over. Even before we got into the stadium, a young lady who seemed to be travelling with her extended family came up to us and asked if they could have a picture with us. Before my friend could react, I said, “Sure, why not”. I really wish we had taken a shot of that in our camera too. The grandma was so glad to see us and even shook my hand like I was some sort of celebrity, while I gave her a quick hug as she was so adorable 😀 Just after thank yous were exchanged, the young girl says “You are so beautiful!” while I stood there wondering how to react and all I could say was “Thank you”. We asked them where they were from and they said they were from Outer Mongolia. So it makes me smile now thinking that someone from Outer Mongolia has a pic of mine grinning like an idiot.
The stadium itself was lovely and had a snow festival with skating and all sorts of games in the snow. Unfortunately, we had reached quite near the closing time so it wouldn’t have been worth the high price of entry to the snow area. Still, it was fun watching kids and grownups alike enjoying the snow after which we had to call it a day.